The Theme of Dehumanization in Breakfast of Champions Essay -- Breakfa
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 ...
...his main theme of dehumanization. He does this using bold motifs, complex characterization, a plot of mundanity and shallowness, elementary diction, and satirical style. He shocks and confuses us with his style of writing, leaving us floundering with questions. Through all this he makes the human race seem empty and alone. But he is right in doing so, because we in fact are.
1 n : an activity that diverts or amuses or stimulates
2 adj. : placed side by side often for comparison; "juxtaposed pictures"
Vit, Marek. Home Page. http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/4953/champions.html
Bonner, Stephanie E. Home Page. http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/4953/alter_ego.html
Anonymous. Encarta. http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=76157250
Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of Champions. New York, New York: Dell Publishing. 1973.