The Theme Of Dehumanization In Breakfast Of Champions

1907 words - 8 pages

The Theme of Dehumanization in Breakfast of Champions

"Dear Sir, poor sir, brave sir: You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe." (Vonnegut 259) Imagine if this was addressed to you. What an awful feeling of betrayal and loneliness you would no doubt get. But what if next you heard this? "You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next-and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine." (Vonnegut 259) Surely you would feel like your entire existence was a big joke, one at your expense. You would feel desensitized, remote, and detached from all human feeling. You would be a poor victim, someone taken hold of by the cold grasp of dehumanization. The American Heritage Dictionary defines dehumanize as "To deprive of human qualities or attributes" or "To render mechanical and routine". This certainly does a grand job at describing the callous, inhuman, and cold feeling you get when reading the novel Breakfast of Champions. In his book Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. uses bold motifs, complex characterization, a plot of mundanity and shallowness, elementary diction, and satirical style to emphasize his main theme of dehumanization.

In 1922, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana to Edith Vonnegut and Kurt Vonnegut Sr. At the age of 18 he graduated from Shortridge High School and pursued a degree in chemistry at Cornell University. (Bonner, par. 1) However, he left college in 1943 to serve his country in World War II. Upon return, Vonnegut continued his studies at the University of Chicago in the field of anthropology. (Encarta, par. 4) In 1950 He left his job and started writing full-time. Vonnegut's other works include Player Piano, Cat's Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Vonnegut's seventh novel Breakfast of Champions is "a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast." (Vonnegut 7) The main event in the story is an arts festival in Midland City. This is where Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover are destined to meet. The story is set in New York around 1973. It follows Trout's journey from Cohoes to Midland City, and Hoover's dysfunctional daily routine while Trout is doing so. Trout makes his way by getting a ride with a truck driver and during the ride, as well as the whole trip, his mind wanders to fanciful stories of science fiction. Destiny, as it were, brings Trout and Hoover together near the end of the book. This is where Trout turns Hoover into a homicidal maniac.

There are a few motifs that Vonnegut uses to drive in the theme of dehumanization in his book. Sex is one of the most apparent motifs used. It is also one of the most sacred things we have as humans. We use it for recreation1 and we also use it to recreate. Vonnegut uses our sexual urges to tear us apart and make us seem mechanical and routine. He reduces us to nothing less than a "fucking machine". (Vonnegut 280)...

Find Another Essay On The Theme of Dehumanization in Breakfast of Champions

The Champions of Sherwood Essay

2235 words - 9 pages “Does everyone really think this place is haunted?” Riley asked of Sebastian as the two boys sorted through the treasure in the wagon. “Of course. Every dishonest person who travels through here with any sort of wealth ends up attacked by a small group of cloaked figures. They never see faces and the attackers are there and gone, almost always silent. Today was an exception. We knew that Selbey would not give in to mere ‘ghosts’. Selbey is not

The Champions of Sherwood Essay

2714 words - 11 pages slowed to a mere crawl. A child spoke up, “Why are we staying here? We would have a much more comfortable night if we continued on towards that cave,” he pointed towards a gaping hole in the stone and dirt of the countryside The child’s mother shushed him, but the elders had already heard the impertinent boy’s words. The man in charge advanced on the boy. He spat, “What would you know of anything? I’ve traveled for many years and I say we

The Dehumanization of Gregor in Kafka's Metamorphosis

713 words - 3 pages The Dehumanization of Gregor in The Metamorphosis In the novella The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, the main character Gregor undergoes a physical transformation from human to bug. Despite this change in appearance, he maintains his human brain as insect tendencies slowly take over his day to day behavior. He maintains his thoughtless state of mind, memories, and inner dialogue during his exterior transformation. Although he maintains his

Comparing Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut

1449 words - 6 pages Breakfast of Champions, written by Kurt Vonnegut, is a story of “two lonesome, skinny old men on a planet which was dying fast” (Vonnegut, P.17). One of these old men is Dwayne Hoover, a “fabulously well-to-do” Pontiac Dealer, and the other is Kilgore Trout, a “nobody” writer. This novel looks into their lives leading up to their meeting in Midland City. Life of Pi is a story that is framed by a fictional entry from the author, Yann Martel, who

A Worn Path by Eudora Welty and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

1624 words - 6 pages her cane and descending the stairs at the end of the story, it is believed that Phoenix dies at the end of the story. Through symbols Eudora Welty's story, "A Worn Path," grows and becomes truly beautiful just like Kurt Vonnegut says in Breakfast of Champions, "“Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes." Works Cited Bartel, Roland. "Life and Death in Eudora Welty's 'A Worn Path'." EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student

Dehumanization of the Slave Trade

2448 words - 10 pages are dehumanizing us, as black people. In accordance with the preceding history on the establishment of the slaves and the acts in which they pursued they also dehumanized the human beings of our society; our black people. Gaines speaks upon the dehumanization of the black community in the novel and also in the predicament that Jefferson was in. Years and years of dehumanization and breaking down of our souls, and “they” are still doing it

McDonaldization: The Dehumanization of Workers

822 words - 3 pages McDonaldization: The Dehumanization of Workers McDonaldization is becoming the new wave of job types where workers are being deskilled, dehumanized and exploited. Machines are taking over tasks which the employees used to do such as bank machines (interact). The McDonaldized jobs now instead of making the employee do all the work they have the customer working too, for example when the customer cleans up after eating. These jobs are

Night - Dehumanization of the Jews

711 words - 3 pages during their time in the concentration camps and they had lost so much of their dignity and identity.This issue is a major aspect of the novel Night. The characters in Night are subjected to ghastly horrors at the concentration camps in which they are imprisoned. As a result, they start to lose their hope, dignity, and identity. The experience is thoroughly dehumanizing.A wise person named Michael Moore once said, "The unfortunate thing about us

The Spread and Significance of Dehumanization in WWII

933 words - 4 pages extent to which prisoners in WWII are dehumanized by the Nazis is heartbreaking. In consequence to the model of behavior presented by the Nazis, those in the labor camps during Wiesel’s journey quickly become submissive in viewing the dehumanization going on around them. In many cases, tragic acts fail to bring about any sort of response from the numbed bodies and brains walking the camps. For example, during an execution, Wiesel’s bunkmate, Juliek

The Effect of Dehumanization and Subhumanization in Nazi Germany

1903 words - 8 pages Dr. Spencer, with a PhD in Social Science in International Conflicts said, “Dehumanization is the psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration.” (“Dehumanization of the Enemy”). Dehumanization, or subhumanization, was a major contributor to the success of concentration camps. If people were not killed immediately upon arrival (after the collection of all possessions

The Objectification and Dehumanization of Women in Advertisement

1395 words - 6 pages environment itself, and extends rather into the direct objectification and dehumanization of women. While often times we see this thin cut, impossibly perfect portrayal of a woman on the cover of a magazine or a billboard, advertisements also turn women into objects and products rather than people, thus dehumanizing them. Often women of color in advertisements are often “featured in jungle settings wearing leopard skins as if there were

Similar Essays

Breakfast Of Champions Essay

678 words - 3 pages I. Breakfast of Champions II. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.III. First copyright date: 1974 A. Delacorte Press/ Seymour Lawrence IV. Settings: A. Years: 1973 B. Places: Sacred Miracle Cave, Midland City V. Theme: Fate and the Creator of the Universe could quite possibly be real.VI. Characters: Kilgore Trout- Kilgore is a writer that I think is going around the country for more ideas about things to put in his novels. He already has some strange plots. He

Kurt Vonnegut's Portrayal Of Society In "Breakfast Of Champions"

2036 words - 8 pages prevalent in this country ('Briefly'146). Vonnegut's novel is an exhibit of the flaws of a robotic, self-destructive society (Allen107). In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut portrays a prefabricated, unfeeling societyand an American culture plagued with despair, greed, and apathy.The issue of society's flaws is a major concern of Breakfast of Champions. Suchproblems arise and are dealt with as failure to communicate, ecological destruction

An Analysis Of Vonnegut’s Breakfast Of Champions

964 words - 4 pages An Analysis of Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions Kilgore Trout is a struggling novelist that can only get his novels published in porn magazines. Dwayne Hoover is a fabulously well-to-do car salesman that is on the brink of insanity. They only meet once in their lives, but the entire novel, Breakfast of Champions (1973), is based on this one meeting. The meeting is brief, but that is all the author, Kurt Vonnegut, needs to express his

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five And Breakfast Of Champions

3523 words - 14 pages homicidal rampages? Perhaps Kurt Vonnegut did. Could it be possible that a writer known more for his pictures of assholes than his knowledge of advanced physics actually centered some of the deepest concepts in his works on the philosophical implications of general relativity and quantum mechanics? Two of his greatest novels, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, both seem to hint at the relationship between modern physics and an idea