Satire In Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast Of Champions

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Unique, unconventional and thought-provoking, Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions, provides his self-revelation of life in a comic induced method. Even with dark comedy embedded in ideas relating to racism, sex, mechanized humans and an indistinguishable narrator, Vonnegut presents new light on common societal problems. This novel should be taught in schools not only for it’s complex yet satisfying maze of ideas, but also for the satire Vonnegut presents on himself, the audience and essentially society itself. Just as it’s complexity is a prime value of the novel, it is it 's downfall as well. The novel requires a certain level of maturity as well as critical thinking skills to process Vonnegut’s subtle yet prevalent satire, only to,…show more content…
Vonnegut’s discussion of race and the differences starts early in the novel. He clarifies that the first sea pirates did not actually create “a government which became a beacon of freedom to man beings everywhere,” but rather the white pirates created a government which owned black slaves (Vonnegut, 11). He emphasizes early on that “color was everything” (Vonnegut 11). Vonnegut makes sure that each and every character of the novel is introduced with a label of either black or white as if it were their first name (Farrell). After setting this baseline perspective, we are then presented with an advertisement for the Robo Magic automatic washing machine. For the wealthy white women who could afford the machine, it was freedom from the tedious laundry work which was stereotyped to occur only on Mondays. For the middle-class women who couldn’t afford such a luxury like Hoover’s stepmother, the laundry work now became “Nigger work,” (Vonnegut, 250). At the same time, the blacks respond to the invention by preparing to leave town since the new machines replaced them and the only other choice they had was to starve to death. The advertisements arousing hierarchical feeling among the women and the billboards capturing the turn of emotions are more examples of society conforming to its set standards (Kaiserman). If blacks were to ignore the signs of differentiation, their fate would most likely near death, just as the farmer, who failed to see the sign which prohibited blacks in the area, was murdered. Such a stereotype is so ingrained in the character’s heads that Hoover’s stepfather, when he first moved into the Shepherdstown, noticed that almost every black person had the same last name as him, Hoobler. He then changes his last name to Hoover to avoid being recognized as a black person. However, we can see a shift
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