Egalitarian Society In Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick

773 Words4 Pages
In the novel Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut, the author portrays a society which is often bizarre, with many science fiction overtones. Despite the many oddities that are portrayed, Vonnegut is attempts to show a society which has become mostly egalitarian, through the diminishing of class conflict, the renewed importance of family, and ultimately, the irrelevance of status and hierarchy. The protagonist of Slapstick, Wilbur Daffodil-II Swain, is the President of the United States, and was born into a rich family. Growing up in a rich family which ostracizes them is a major factor in the formation of his and his sister’s philosophy, which involves subdividing all of America into artificial families. This, therefore, would make all families…show more content…
Despite the fact that the protagonist is President of the United States, many people do not treat him as such, and his status has almost completely no meaning after the flu strikes. “Neither one of them even suspected I was the president. I had become quite a mess by then.” (134) Despite this, many hierarchies form in the post-flu world, but are unpopular and meaningless. “There were claims of Dukedoms and Kingdoms and such garbage, and armies were raised and forts were built here and there. But few people admired them. They were just more bad weather and more bad gravity that families endured from time to time.” (130) The depiction of post-flu Manhattan shows a world in which hierarchy is nearly meaningless, with many people actually wanting to be slaves, and the equality of almost everyone in the post-flu Manhattan society. Despite this, the protagonist is still called the “King of Candlesticks” a position with no power. While the world within Slapstick may be very flawed, I think that the concept of an egalitarian society is successfully executed in the novel. This is done through the diminishing of class, the deepening of family bonds, and the undoings of
Open Document