Kurt Vonnegut's Short Stories: Consequences Of Complete Government Control

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Consequences of Complete Government Control The American people have always fought oppression from the government, but have relinquished their freedoms in the dystopian societies of Vonnegut’s short stories. He is able to illustrate the future governments of America based on the life he was experiencing during the Great Depression and World War II. During the Great Depression, 1929-1939, America encountered an economic slump that led to a 25 percent unemployment rate, failing businesses, and great hardships for most Americans. In addition to his upbringing in the Great Depression, he joined the army during WWII as an infantry scout and was later captured by the Germans in 1944. Despite “the 1945 Allied firebombing of the city that cost 135,000…show more content…
These events created a distrust between Americans and their government and “caused him(Vonnegut) to question many of the power structures in the United States: the government, corporations, the military, and bureaucracies in general” (Mowery 1). He effectively criticizes the US government by turning “black-logic extensions of today’s absurdities into an imagined society of tomorrow at once gives us something to laugh at and much to fear” (King 426). Kurt Vonnegut satirizes the principles of complete government control throughout his short stories, “Welcome to the Monkey House”, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”, and “Harrison Bergeron.” In the short story, “Welcome to the Monkey House”, Vonnegut criticizes the US and future world government for oppressing the people with laws based on morality. These laws came into effect after the world experienced a population explosion of seventeen billion, mostly caused by the unchecked science community. The science community is not completely at fault though as they are just fulfilling man’s “desire for…show more content…
Billy the Poet, a Nothinghead and the protagonist, explains J. Edgar Nation’s story of developing the ethical birth control pills after his experience at the Grand Rapids Zoo. Although he only intended these pills to “make monkeys in the springtime fit things for a Christian family to see” (Vonnegut 36), they were later forced onto the American people to create a better, more civilized society in an overpopulated world. Although many see no problem with ethical birth control, enforcing morality has always remained a form of government oppression, which suppresses a person’s individuality. In fact the government is controlling “not birth but sexuality” (Meek, Reed, Ploeg, & Adcock 5), which is a blatant overreach of power. In “Welcome to the Monkey House”, Kurt Vonnegut satirizes the conflict of ethics in government by producing an obscure and almost-humorous plot in the short story. Readers today would never think that there would be a secret resistance of people protesting the eradication of sex in daily life. Vonnegut uses this example of satire to warn against the future consequences of complete government control. The theme of regulated reproduction, in an overpopulated world, is also presented in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and

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