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Post-War American Anxiety in the Fiction of Kurt Vonnegut

Chenchar, Jonathan
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This paper explores Vonnegut’s perceptions of society through his literary works in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s; what he was saying about society then, how his satire has held up in the modern day, and what the over-arching themes of his novels consist of. The paper begins with an in-depth discussion of Cat’s Cradle and the analyzation of science and technologies role in progress, or regress, and the anxieties spurned by it. Next, Slaughterhouse-Five is discussed, and how Vonnegut uses his own experience in war to show the anxieties concerning the nature of war, the public’s perceptions of it, and the effect it has on those who experience it. From here, Galápagos is analyzed, with the themes of human institutions bringing about cultural change playing a leading role, as well as the fragility of human existence from an evolutionary standpoint. Finally, the novel to sum them all up, Breakfast of Champions and the exploration into modern American society, and the role of the artist in a post-war society will be analyzed, leading into a conclusion on Vonnegut’s portrayal of the anxieties of post-war American culture.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries