Welcome to the Monkey House
Welcome to the Monkey Houseis a collection of Kurt Vonnegut's shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fictionand The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut's audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.
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WHERE I LIVE
"Where I Live" is properly placed as the first short story in the collection. This story, published in 1964, tells the tale of a simple classless town. The setting is used a backdrop for other stories in the collection and is a foundational piece that provides some structure in a collection of a variety of short stories.
The library hasn't updated the encyclopedia in decades, and the last notable change in this town was the discovery that "tuna were good to eat." That discovery was made sixty years ago. According to the evidence the narrator presents, the town can be characterized as ________________.
Initially, the town appears to be strange because the townspeople refuse to embrace change, but ironically that reluctance to change has maintained the charm and the beauty of the town. Similar towns along the Cape have become tourist traps, but Barnstable Village retained it's Cape Cod roots. Ironically, none of the residents are from Cape Cod, but it is their adherence to maintaining the sense of Cape Cod that unifies them.
Be sure to note the setting: 2081. This story is in the science fiction genre. Science fiction typically takes place in a dystopian future where the ideals of modern day are exaggerated and become the focus of a futuristic society. Science fiction also explores man's relationship with technology and its affects on society or the environment in the future.
George is forced to wear a "mental handicap radio in his ear" due to his above average intelligence. Why does he hear a loud sound each time he begins to think about things like "maybe the dancers shouldn't be handicapped," or thinking "glimmeringly about his abnormal son"?
This futuristic society is based on literal equality: everyone must be the same intelligence, the same physical appearance, the same physical abilities, and the same mental capacities. If there is a divergent, there is a threat to the government. In order to prevent a threat, people like George Bergeron are outfitted with "handicaps." The question you have to ask yourself is who decides the standards?
Why is Harrison a threat to this society?
The government of the future provides equality for all. This is an ideal which modern society strives for, but as you can see from the text, the only way for the government to maintain that equality is by stripping the individuality from mankind by any means necessary. You have to wonder if loss of the individual is worth the gain of equality. If not, can there ever literally be equality?
WHO AM I THIS TIME?
The narrator in the story is not named, but tells us that he is a reluctant neophyte director and wants a man named Harry Nash to play the lead in part because he played leads previously. Ironically, Nash is not an interesting man at all and according to the narrator he was shy, didn't socialize, and couldn't "think of anything to say or do without a script."
Harry was an excellent actor because he was "body and soul... exactly what the script and director told him to be." This is ironic because
Helene's life is nomadic: as a child she moved often, and as an adult she moved every few weeks for her job. When Helene explains that she has never been in love except with the movie stars because "they were the only people who came with us," the resulting mood is sad and pitiful.
After Helene completes the scene with Harry, the narrator tells us that "the bottle was gone." This is an example of a
Helene develops feelings for Harry based on his persona in the play and not based on his actual character. Lydia believes that Helene will be disappointed and heartbroken when she realizes that Harry is not the part he plays in the play. Do you think this is common? Have you ever fallen for an actor based on who they portray in a movie or on television? Do you believe Helene will be left heartbroken?
Helene's performance on Friday night is seemingly impacted by the realization that Harry is not his character. But if that is the case, why is her performance on Saturday her "best performance yet"? Cite textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Go to the first page of this short story and reread the brief characterization of Harry. The narrator tells you that Harry does exactly what the director asks of him and what is in the script. Helene directs him to read Romeo's lines. As a result, Harry becomes Romeo. Helene discovers that she can have exactly what she wants as long as the lines are in a script. Was this ending foreshadowed in the story? Be sure to review the definition of foreshadowing below. (This annotation contains a video)
WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE
Like "Harrison Bergeron," "Welcome to the Monkey House" is science fiction. As you read, try to identify the theme of the short story. Remember: Sci-fi texts deal with a dystopian world of the future where technology is overused or abused. Often in a dystopian tale, the citizens of the society are oppressed and suppressed in to conformity. Many are unaware of how dissatisfied they are until a discordant individual or group brings about change.
The Suicide Hostesses can be characterized as
The people in this society are physically numbed to avoid sexual contact, and as a result the citizenry has become numb in the mind as well. The society is automated and requires few to work, so people watch government controlled television that promotes intelligent consumption or intelligent choices. These "choices" include ethical suicide. Does the government promote the best interests of the individual or the society as a whole?
J. Edgar Nation is an allusion to J. Edgar Hoover. He directed the FBI from 1924-1972, and he was known for using unscrupulous methods to obtain information on groups or individuals he deemed radical. He did not heed the individuals' rights to privacy.
The story that Foxy Grandpa retells is about the invention of the ethical birth control. Based on the story, which element of society is an essential part of the foundation and creation of the laws?
The basis behind the creation of ethical birth control is a blend of science and religion. From a scientific point of view, society could not handle a constantly burgeoning population. From a religious perspective, science should not stop the ability of an individual to procreate, but it could help eradicate lewd sexual practices; in this case the monkeys masturbating at the zoo and "sex for nothing but pleasure." The quandary about population control is a real and valid concern for many societies. However, many cultures do not allow the government to interfere with personal decisions such as family planning. China is a prime example of a nation whose government does oversee population control. Read the article below to learn about the updates made in 2013 to the One Child Policy that was enacted in 1979. (This annotation contains a link)
As Billy walks Nancy through the sewer system, he will not engage her in a conversation until the pills wear off. His reason is because "A woman's not a woman till the pills wear off." What does he mean?
Nancy is shocked when she learns that Billy has a gang that includes former Suicide Hostesses. She believes that they must be drugged to stay with Billy and do his bidding. Based on what she was taught in school, she believes the drug is gin. Nancy's character is symbolic of the majority of people in this futuristic society. She believes what she is taught with blind faith and fears what she does not know. Review the definition of symbolism using the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
After Nancy is bathed, "her will and intelligence returned." What does this imply about the connection between the ability engage in sex for pleasure and a person's free will?
Though this scene contains a violent rape, it is a necessary to help develop a central theme in the text. Billy forces himself onto Nancy as a means to an end. Immediately prior to raping Nancy, they discuss the idea of happiness. They both question what happiness is. This develops the theme of free will and individuality. In most dystopian texts, the individual sacrifices his or her freedoms for the sake of society as a whole; this is similar to the foundations of Communism or Socialism.
Billy tells Nancy that the entire scene between them is a reenactment of his great-great-grandfather's wedding night. This scene is not about love and sex but instead is a(n) ___________ for what falling in love and engaging in sex for pleasure afford the individual.
The sonnet Billy leaves with Nancy is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Browning's father was a tyrant and did not want her to marry. However, when Browning fell in love with Robert Browning, they decided to elope and move to Italy. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's father never spoke to her again. This sonnet is so widely used and so popular because it captures the essence of true love. Billy's great-great grandfather gives this poem to his wife to demonstrate to her that he loves her, despite his bride's reaction to having sexual intercourse for the first time. Billy's intent is to demonstrate how the sexual act and emotion are connected. The emotional component of sexual freedom allows for the free will of the individual to be unleashed as well.
LONG WALK TO FOREVER
In Vonnegut's preface, he tells you that this short story is a tribute to his marriage because it worked.
Newt repeats this phrase throughout the text. Newt wants Catharine to reconsider her plans to marry, but instead of cogently telling her to do so, he uses the subtle rhetorical device of repetition to convince her that she should rethink her plans. Repetition is used in a text to clarify an idea or in this case to help Catharine find clarity.
Catharine is having a difficult time believing much of what Newt says because of his _________. She is not sure if he is speaking sarcastically or seriously about going AWOL or why he is visiting her a week before her wedding.
The dynamic between Catharine and Newt is almost comical. Newt says very little and is very direct with Catharine. As a result, Catharine is flustered and unsure of how to react. It is as if she is torn between doing and saying what is expected of her and doing and saying what she wants to in the moment.
"Hell to Get Along With" was the original title of the text.
Newt is a combination of frank and nonchalant. Do you think Newt is as nonchalant as he seems? Do you think if Catharine were to walk away at this moment, he would accept her decision to marry Henry Stewart Chasens? Cite textual evidence to support your conclusions.
This scene is similar to the scene in the film The Notebook where after a being apart for some time, Noah and Allie reunite and Noah declares his love for Allie. The problem is Allie is engaged to another man, so she must make a choice. Below is a clip from the film. (This annotation contains a video)
THE FOSTER PORTFOLIO
The narrator characterizes himself in many ways: he is well-dressed, appears confident, collected, and calm, and he assists other people to invest their money. What does he mean when he says, "my job is a little like being a hungry delivery boy for a candy store"?
It is apparent from the dialogue that Herbert Foster is concealing details about his finances from his wife. The Fosters live a modest life and do not seem to have much money at all. Based on their home and its furnishings, the narrator assumes that this visit will be a waste of his time because he won't be able to make much money, if any, from Herbert Foster's investments.
Based on the dialogue between the narrator and Herbert, the narrator can be characterized as
The narrator cannot comprehend the disparity between the life Herbert Foster chooses to lead and the life Herbert Foster can afford to lead. The narrator will struggle to comprehend Foster's choices throughout the text. This internal conflict develops one of the themes that "the grass is not always greener on the other side."
The narrator learns that Herbert was raised by his mother because his father abandoned them. The only quality Herbert inherited from his father was musicality. Why is the narrator interested in knowing more about Herbert's past?
The dialogue between the narrator and Herbert develops Herbert's character. You learn that Herbert's father did not value his home or his family. As a result, Herbert's own values were shaped. He wants to be the antithesis of his father so living off the money he inherited is not an option for him. Herbert values earning "what he lives on." This illustrates the theme that parents, whether they are present or absent, help to shape their children's personas.
Herbert makes two allusions to the Bible. First he says that working two jobs to support his family is his "cross to bear." The second allusion is when he says "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee." The second allusion is a biblical verse that refers to the committing of sin. On a literal level, man is instructed to cut off the body part that commits sin as a means to overcome sin. On a figurative level, the verse means that man should not tolerate sin in any aspect of his life. Based on these allusions, what can you infer about Herbert's father's influence on his life?
Based on what the narrator knows about Herbert thus far, he concludes that Herbert's ruse must be for a good reason. This is important for two reasons: 1. The narrator's upright opinion of Herbert develops a characterization of him as a moral man. 2. The narrator's internal conflict is seeking a resolution. The narrator needs to find some character flaw or defect to explain why someone would (in the narrator's perspective) punish himself by working so diligently without real cause.
In order to support his family, Herbert Foster plays jazz piano three nights a week in a dive bar surrounded by smoke and alcohol . Even when he has the opportunity to leave the job, Herbert maintains the position because he is "his father's son." Which statement best illustrates this paradox?
The Puritans were known for their strict adherence to the Bible and its teachings. They believed in a simple lifestyle devoted to hard work fearing that "idle hands are the Devil's workshop." They also valued austerity and modesty. When a person deviated from this moral code, the Puritans were unforgiving. An example of this were the Salem Witch Trials. The narrator utilizes common knowledge of Puritanism to establish a societal norm and to characterize Susanna as extraordinarily beautiful.
The narrator tells you that Norman Fuller "meant to underplay his indignation" when he saw Susanna enter the pharmacy, but his screeching stool made him the center of attention. As he criticizes Susanna, his tone can best be described as
Norman Fuller has returned from the Korean War and come back to a life where everything he knew and everyone he knew are different. He is also harboring feelings of resentment about how he was treated by other women in his life. This, coupled with the attention beautiful Susanna receives, is the basis for Corporal Fuller's diatribe earlier. He does not know Susanna at all to judge her, but he condemns her nonetheless. The narrator compares his voice to the "voice of a witch hanger." Corporal Fuller is characterized as self-righteous, a quality that can be dangerous.
The night before, Mr. Hinkley tells Fuller that Susanna did not perform in the show in order to convey to Fuller the impression and impact his words made on Susanna. Today, Hinkley tells Fuller he is responsible for Susanna leaving town unexpectedly. Based on his observations, Hinkley can be characterized as
The author uses juxtaposition in this story to contrast the reality of the situation with what Fuller imagines the situation is. An example of this is when Fuller enters Susanna's bedroom. He imagines it to be a den of iniquity, a "nest... reeking of incense," with mirrors and scarves. But in direct contrast, the image of the bedroom is austere. A second example is Susanna's attire as she prepares to leave. She is "dressed as properly as a missionary's wife." These dichotomies continue throughout the dialogue between Fuller and Susanna.
What does Susanna mean when she uses the metaphor "I'm not Yellowstone Park!"?
The dialogue between Fuller and Susanna reveals that they are essentially the same character: they are both insecure. Fuller is insecure about his appearance and abilities to attract women and Susanna is insecure about how her beauty is perceived by others and how it influences they way they treat her. Reread Mr. Hinkley's conversation with Corporal Fuller. How does he intimate to Fuller that he and Susanna are the same?
ALL THE KING’S HORSES
Based on the initial dialogue between the two soldiers, the mood can be described as
In "All the King's Horses," the author utilizes the characters Colonel Kelly and Pi Ying to illustrate the two antithetical perspectives. Colonel Kelly is methodical and pensive while Pi Ying is more emotional and unscrupulous. This is established almost immediately when Pi Ying not only holds the soldiers as POWs, but also intends to make them into live chess pieces in order to find more "entertainment" in their deaths.
What is Kelly referring to is the "essence of war?"
As the chess game begins, the soldiers are no longer worried, upset, or pugnacious. They are ready and willing to take direction blindly from their leader. Though they are humans and flesh and blood, they may as well be chess pieces because they will not move until they are told to do so and will follow orders. This is war.
When Kelly moves his pawn as protection for another pawn, he believes the soldier will be safe because he believes Pi Yang is playing strategically. When Pi Yang takes Kelly's pawn, this reveals that
Because Kelly tries to maintain as many pieces as he can, he fails to see that Pi Yang can win the match until it is almost too late. Kelly underestimates Pi Yang's ability to play chess by overestimating his bloodlust to kill the Americans. There is another juxtaposition of strategy in this scene. Do you play to win with a willingness to risk your pieces, or do you play cautiously to conserve your army and risk losing the entire game?
When Kelly moves his son into the sacrificial spot on the board, Pi Yang does not have an opportunity to "give the order to the executioners" because he is murdered. Who murders him and why? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
The narrator tells us that Kelly's wife cannot accept "death as a product of cool reason," and "rather than accept [Jerry's death], she would have had them all die. How do Colonel Kelly and his wife differ?
Kelly wins the game due to his ability to disconnect his emotions from his reason. This mechanical approach to winning ultimately saves the lives of the remaining players, but it takes its toll on the relationships between the soldiers, his family, and Kelly. Reread the dialogue between Kelly and his soldier as he orders him to move backward. What tone does the soldier use? How does this reflect the respect lost for Kelly?
Vonnegut was a soldier in WWII and a POW. He understood what was necessary for war to be won and he knew how to survive dire circumstances. This story illustrates the fortitude needed for survival, but it also illustrates the costs of survival.
TOM EDISON’S SHAGGY DOG
By comparing Harold Bullard to a cannibal, how does the author characterize him?
The man clearly did not want to engage Harold Bullard, but Harold persisted. Based on the tension between the two men, do you think the story the stranger is about to tell Harold Bullard is completely true? What could the stranger gain by lying?
Which excerpt from the story best illustrates the theme of the text?
Based on the highlighted passage, the word pregnant most nearly means
Edward Albee wrote the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" In the drama, the dysfunctional husband and wife traumatize an unsuspecting couple through a night of sardonic and twisted events.
Based on statements such as, "Whoever deciders to crash the unabridged dictionary game next- and it will probably be General Motors or Ford...," what is the tone of the piece?
The initial conflict in "Next Door" is about the Leonard's eight-year-old son Paul. His mother does not believe he is old enough to stay home alone and his father does. Were you allowed to stay home alone at eight-years-old? Why or why not?
What is the impact of the argument on Paul's mood?
The "objective lens" of the microscope is damaged as Paul tries to examine a hair beneath the lens. This reflects the deterioration of the Paul's objectivity as he listens to the neighbor's argument escalate. Paul's anxiety and fear will impair his ability to see the situation clearly.
Paul believes that he has resolved the argument with his dedication. It is naive plan and attempt from a child. Ironically, it seems to work and the cessation of the argument leads Paul to feel as is "childhood dropped away" and was ready to embrace life.
When Paul denies hearing gunshots, "the ball of money in [his] pocket seemed to swell to the size of a watermelon." This is an example of
MORE STATELY MANSIONS
Think about the title and what it may mean. There is an old saying about "Keeping up with the Joneses" (that is where the Kardashian's found inspiration). It means that one feels compelled to have what his neighbors have. Keep this idea in mind as you read this story.
The narrator's description of Grace is, "Don't let her throw you. Just her way of talking. Got a dan' nice house here. I like it, and so does she." Based on this description, choose three adjectives to characterize Grace. Support the characterization with textual evidence.
What is the tone of the highlighted dialogue?
Anne is hesitant to visit the McClellan's home because she is concerned it will be stylishly decorated and make her house look "home look so sad." When Anne and the narrator arrive at the McClellan's it is dirty, dingy, and neglected. This is an example of
Grace McClellan does not mean any harm, but at times she does seem to lose a firm grasp on reality. She speaks as if the decor she has imagined in her mind is her reality, yet she does acknowledge her home will look nice "someday." Have you ever known anyone to be consumed by their daydreams? In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber Walter Mitty is a man who is lost in his daydreams. He literally escapes his reality in his daydreams. Mitty, like Grace, is not deranged or in need of commitment to an institution, but he needs his daydreams as Grace needs hers. Below is a link to the short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." ll (This annotation contains a link)
After the makeover of the McClellan's home is complete, Anne's greatest concern is the fabric for the slipcovers and the curtains. She knows they are not the perfect color. Grace McClellan notices, acknowledges the color variation, and says, "Something in the air, I suppose." What does Grace believe happened?
The video below is a television episode adapted from Vonnegut's "More Stately Mansions." It was filmed in 1991. (This annotation contains a video)
THE HYANNIS PORT STORY
Based on Commodore's tone when discussing the Kennedy family, you can infer that
The narrator's perspective is an objective third-party viewer. He admits that he earned this job due to a wrong impression, and also admits that "a man who sells storm windows can never be really sure about what class he belongs to." He is humble and neutral.
Commodore tells the narrator, "it isn't as though Kennedy was the first President we ever had in Hyannis Port...Kennedy is simply the first President who's seen fit to turn the place into an eastern enclave of Disneyland." Based on this statement, Commodore is upset by the __________ Kennedy brings to Hyannis Port.
In the first short story of the collection, "Where I Live," the town is described as shunning tourists and visitors because they were happy undisturbed lives and maintenance of Cape Cod character. Commodore's attitude about Kennedy and the chaos that ensues when he is in Hyannis Port is reminiscent of the townspeople in "Where I Live."
Commodore is also a Republican in favor of Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater was the 1964 Republican nominee for president. He was a well-known conservative and helped to remake the Republican party. The brief video below contains more information about Goldwater's life and political career. How do you think Commodore feels when he realizes his son is going to marry a Kennedy and a democrat? (This annotation contains a link)
After feeling defeated because his son is marrying a Kennedy and facing an identity crisis, Commodore decides not to turn on his floodlights in support of Goldwater. Ironically President Kennedy asks him to turn them on so he "can find [his] way home." Why did the President choose to live in Hyannis Port?
"D.P" stands for "displaced person." This is a term that was coined post WWII. This story is gleaned directly from Vonnegut's experiences with war and knowledge of life post war. For more information about displaced persons, click on the link below. It contains photographs of Jewish children who were looking to reunite with their families after the war. (This annotation contains a link)
This video is the actual US Army newsreel that was shown post-WWII. Watch this video to learn more about this historical context behind this story. (This annotation contains a video)
The men argue about the ethnicity of the other children, but when they see "Joe" they are both positive he is an American. Why do they believe he must be an American?
In the orphanage, Peter is the boy who speaks with authority because he is the oldest and has memories beyond the confinement of the orphanage. This leads Joe to trust his word, and he is intrigued by who his parents are.
Based on the questions Joe asks the nun, you can infer he is curious about his parents because
The sergeant standing in the moonlight is described as "the image of an emperor." What does the use of figurative language imply?
The soldiers' reactions are similar to the old carpenter's reactions: Joe does not belong. The soldiers label him "the most displaced little old person I ever saw."
The mood of the scene can be described as ______________ as Joe clings to the sergeant and pleads, "Papa! No- papa! I want to stay with you."
D bars were the official military chocolate. They were not chocolate in the commercial sense, but bars that contained cocoa powder and resembled chocolate but could help a soldier survive due to its high calorie count. They were purposefully made to not taste as good as real chocolate to prevent soldiers from consuming them for pleasure and not survival. The link below is to the Hershey company's archives with the history of the D bars. (This annotation contains a link)
Peter does not want to accept or believe that Joe has met his father. What evidence does Joe offer to prove that the soldier is his father?
REPORT ON THE BARNHOUSE EFFECT
This short story, like "Welcome to the Monkey House" and "Harrison Bergeron," are all classified as science fiction. The stories each develop the themes of technology gone awry and the mechanization of man. The central difference between "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" and the other dystopian or science fiction texts is that this story is set in a Cold War-type time period in the not too distant future. The Cold War was an race to build national defense between Russia and the United States. A third world war was prevented primarily because of the nuclear threat that both countries possessed. If one nation were to use an atomic weapon, the other would as well and it could lead to the annihilation of the entire human race. The video below is about the technological remnants of the Cold War. (This annotation contains a link)
The narrator expresses that the professor's abilities are to be harnessed and used as a weapon because "he who rules the Barnhouse Effect rules the world!" However, the narrator warns that "without knowledge of the professor's technique, [others with this ability] can never be anything but dice-table despots." What does the narrator mean by this metaphor?
The narrator explicitly states that the professor never intended to use his gift as a weapon for destruction. The narrator presents this dialogue as evidence. The professor is more concerned with international politics than his studies. He also asks the question, "Think every new piece of scientific information is a good thing for humanity?"
The professor is compelled to share his abilities with the government because he hasn't "anymore right to it than a man has a right to own an atomic bomb." Based on his actions and statements, which term best characterizes the professor?
The exchange between the professor and General Barker illustrates the central conflict of war for peace versus peace to end war. The professor sees his "technology" as means to end the world's problems because "nobody would want to fight if there were enough of everything to go around." General Barker believes to preserve freedom and peace, you must be ready to defend your country.
The plot of this short story is similar to the plot of some comics. Many superheroes have powers that exceed that of an average human being. As Peter Parker once said, "With great power comes great responsibility." This scene in particular is similar to scenes from the X-Men series of films. In the films, mutants struggle with humans on two fronts: a faction of mutants wish to protect humanity and integrate into humanity and a faction of mutants wish to destroy humanity because of their prejudice and hatred displayed toward mutants. The YouTube clip is a montage of the mutant Magneto's abilities to manipulate metal with his mind. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the "War of the Tattletales"?
In an ironic twist, the narrator outlines how he has learned how to control his dynamopsychism and will now become the man who will carry on the professor's mission because "Barnhouse will die. But not the Barnhouse Effect." This illustrates that in a society that is on the verge of totalitarianism, those who do not wish to comply are fugitives. This is similar to the nothingheads in "Monkey House."
THE EUPHIO QUESTION
"The Euphio Question" is similar to "The Barnhouse Effect" because they are both science fiction stories set in the near future. The societies in both texts have yet to fully develop into totalitarian nations, but with the advent of new technologies, both cultures are on the brink of breakdown.
When the narrator arrives home, his wife Susan "who prides herself on feeding her family well and on time," is reposed on the couch with no intentions of preparing a meal. The effects of the radio broadcast have made her happy to the point that she
When Lew suggests that the men utilize the "noise from the stars" to make money, the narrator has his doubts. The narrator's concern that "maybe it's the kind of thing that shouldn't be cashed in on," reiterates Professor Barnhouse's concern about keeping his ability to himself. Both characters recognize the potential dangers of the technology and how they can outweigh the potential security or safety or pleasure the advancements can provide.
Which textual excerpt best captures the mood of the room prior to turning on the euphiophone?
The effects of the euphiophone are similar a drug induced state - the people effected only care about their own happiness. They are also derelict in their duties to the extent that their safety is in jeopardy. This invention is a threat on many levels. Imagination what an person with malicious intentions could do with a machine that removes all inhibitions and the ability to care.
Once the house is cleared out of everyone except the original group, which conflict is revealed?
The narrator explains how the euphio is "distressing" because it incites men to buy happiness in lieu of pursuing happiness. Why is this a problem? Do you think that contemporary society faces this issue?
GO BACK TO YOUR PRECIOUS WIFE AND SON
This is a familiar narrator. The same character narrated "The Hyannis Port Story." The two short stories are also similar in that they both examine human nature and relationships. Unlike the dystopian and science fiction short stories that hone in on the threat of technology and loss of humanity, these stories are prime examples of humanity sans technology. As you read, focus on the characters, the dialogue, and the emerging theme.
The highlighted text is an example of
This text is structured around dialogue. When analyzing humanity and emotions, it is essential to utilize dialogue because it allows the characters to express themselves, interact, and react to one another. In many of Vonnegut's stories, the author uses dialogue to delve into relationships.
Based on the dialogue, the word contemptible most nearly means
Consider why Vonnegut parallels the experience Murra had with Gloria Hilton and the narrator's drunken conversation with his wife. In this case, the narrator and his wife have been married for almost twenty years, so when he returns home and is rude and drunk, his wife gives him a cold bath and sleeps in the guest room. When Murra and Gloria Hilton argue, their marriage of a year is over. What do you think Vonnegut is trying to convey by juxtaposing the two couples?
Do you think Murra's son John is justified in his anger toward his father? Why or why not?
In Vonnegut's short stories about the seemingly mundane and ordinary relationships between husband and wife or father and son, the conflicts that arise in the rising action are all happily resolved in the falling action. What do you think Vonnegut is trying to convey by concluding these stories with "happy endings"? Do you think that they time period when it was written or Vonnegut's own personal experiences influence these stories in particular?
DEER IN THE WORKS
The Works is a large job facility that is a small city within the larger city. It is such a large organization and network of buildings that it hires a variety of employees, not only manual laborers.
Based on the dialogue between David and his wife Nan, Nan can be characterized as ___________ about David's decision to accept employment at the Works.
David's employment at the Works seemingly offers him more benefits than he could ever need, but the trade off for him is that he will sell his paper. His wife is reluctant to sell the paper because in many ways the paper is David. He works independently, he is able to travel, interact with people, and write. Do you think that he will be able to do the same at the Works?
The highlighted passage is an example of
When Flammer describes the complex and convoluted rating system, why does David tell himself that his resentment is a "small-town man's" reaction?
When David is presented his salary curve, the narrator states, "The graph left no questions to be asked and was deaf to argument." The graph is personified to emphasize
As David tries to find the deer and make a good impression on his new boss, Vonnegut uses stream of consciousness to intensify the sense of urgency that David feels. Click the link below to read the definition of stream of consciousness. (This annotation contains a link)
So far, David has run into one employee who has been with the company fifty years, and he tells David that no one else will ever achieve that because employees must retire at sixty-five. Now, Mr. Flammer's secretary informs David about the Quarter-Century Club Picnic to celebrate employees who have worked there for twenty-five years. Based on these two conversations, what can you infer about the Works?
The deer is a symbol of David. Deer are thought of as innocent and defenseless against attack. If David is the deer, then who are his hunters? Are they literally or figuratively killing him?
This story is set in Massachusetts. Many of Vonnegut's stories in this collection are set in New England.
In the dialogue between Dr. and Mrs. Remenzel, Dr. Remenzel is annoyed when Mrs. Remenzel ponders "how many Remenzels have gone to Whitehill." Why does this bother the doctor?
The conflict between the Remenzels is simple to understand: Dr. Remenzel believes that his family name and recognition should not influence the way his family conducts themselves. They should not expect any special accommodations to be made. Mrs. Remenzel does not expect to have to ask for concessions to be made; they are Remenzels and "are entitled to ask for a little something extra." Do you believe that some people are entitled because of the money they donate or their family name?
As Eli sits in the front seat "like a snowman in hell" knowing he was not admitted to Whitehill, he can be characterized as all of the following except
Prior to Dr. and Mrs. Remenzel learning the truth about Eli, they both convey the attitude that they appreciate Whitehill's acceptance of scholarship candidates and candidates of a different race. Dr. Remenzel does not seem surprised by the diversity of the school; he almost expects it from the institution. Do you think their tone and attitude will change when they are told Eli did not get in?
Dr. Remenzel tells his son that if he "were ever to hear that you used the name Remenzel as though you thought Remenzels were something special," he would be embarrassed. The doctor is embarrassed when his wife wishes that Eli had a blazer and retorts, "He isn't entitled to one." He believes her wish conveys the theme of
Tom Hilyer's son, "a scholarship boy," earned the highest score ever on the examination. Learning this just prior to finding out that Eli was not accepted is exponentially worse for the Remenzels.
When Dr. Remenzel realizes that Eli is not accepted, he is not interested in Eli's behavior but is more "interested in what some other people are going to do." Why is this ironic? Cite textual evidence to support your response.
The hypocrisy of Dr. Remenzel's actions, gives new meaning to the title of the short story. Initially, "The Lie" referred to the lie Eli told, but in the end "The Lie" is the belief Dr. Remenzel had that he didn't feel entitled or privileged. He tried to convince himself that he was oblivious to socioeconomic status, but when he was tested, he utilized his status to no avail. Ironically, a Remenzel "asked for something - as though a Remenzel were special" and found out that he wasn't.
UNREADY TO WEAR
The stories in the collection thus far, for the most part, have either examined the effects of technological advancement on humanity in the form of science fiction or dystopian texts or have examined the idealism of the relationships between people. This story serves as a keystone between the two themes. The story is set in the future and is science fiction, yet it's narrator reveals that the reasons for wanting to be amphibious are because of his wife.
In which other short story does the threat of overpopulation serve as an impetus for technological advancement and societal change?
The narrator explains the key to becoming amphibious is inhabiting land or sea. In 1995, a movie titled Waterworld was released. In the film, the earth is covered by water and there are remaining factions of people all vying for land. Some humans have mutated and have gills. The film and the short story are different in their portrayals of "amphibians," but in both medias those who have adapted are societal outcasts. Below is a clip from the film when Kevin Costner's character is revealed to be a "mutant." (This annotation contains a video)
Who is the narrator referring to when he discusses "the enemy"?
The central conflict between the amphibians and the humans seems to be a question of responsibility: responsibility for all humans to fight wars, to grow old, to work until their bodies can no longer stand it, to struggle. What do you think is really at the core of the conflict?
The narrator declares war on the humans and threatens that "the amphibians will occupy the bodies" of all the humans and kill them. The narrator then admits to the reader, "that was hogwash, of course." What human emotion does the narrator manipulate in order to be set free?
THE KID NOBODY COULD HANDLE
According to the narrator, Helmholtz's __________ is what inspires the students to perform and influences the community to support him in his endeavors.
When Helmholtz hears about Jim's family problems, his first instinct is to ask if Jim likes music and then if he has any other interests. Helmholtz wishes to find a way to connect to the boy which is contrasted by Quinn's bitter assessment: "he's the no-good bum of a man."
Helmholtz tells Jim that when he is disgusted by things in life, he escapes to his own "tiny corner of the universe." He then identifies other teachers who have their own corners of the universe as well. Based on their conversation, can you infer why Jim would destroy Mr. Crane's corner of the universe?
Helmholtz is inspecting his instruments "with the contentment of a miser counting his money." This is an example of which literary device?
Helmholtz refuses to return Jim's boots because he doesn't think they are a good influence on Jim. The boots are _________ and __________.
Helmholtz characterizes Jim as a "bundle of scar tissue." He can no longer feel anything: remorse, happiness, love, sadness, joy, because of the experiences in his life.
Helmholtz's trumpet has great meaning throughout the story. Initially, it is valued by Helmholtz because it belonged to Souza, then it is deemed worthless because Helmholtz believed it was a transformative object but had seemingly no impact on Jim. It is only when it is destroyed by Helmholtz that its symbolic meaning is clarified. What does the trumpet symbolize?
THE MANNED MISSILES
This short story, like "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" is set post WWII during the Cold War. The story is told from the perspective of two fathers, one Russian and one American, who have both lost sons in the "race to space." There was much tension between Russia and the United States during this time, and Vonnegut juxtaposes the national conflict with the peaceable letters between the two fathers.
Stepan is characterized as a thoughtful and understanding man. When his father expresses his concerns about space, Stepan does not mock his father, but he agrees with his fears. Surprisingly Stepan does not wish to travel to space for nefarious purposes but for all the following reasons except
What does Stephan mean when he says, "But if war happens, nothing will matter any more. Our world will become less fit for life than any other in the solar system"? Cite examples from history to support your conclusions.
The correspondence shared between the two fathers was meant to be private, but the first letter is intercepted and made public prior to being mailed. Ironically a letter that is written as an olive branch is utilized publicly to assign blame and bring shame to the parties involved.
Both men believe that on some level their sons' deaths
In Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, Caesar refuses to stay out of the senate even though he is warned that terrible things will happen if he does not. He says, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come." (Act II, scene 2, line 33) Do you agree with Caesar? Do you think Bud and Stepan would agree?
The title of this short story is a play on the word "ipecac." Syrup of "ipecac" was used to induce vomiting and empty a person's stomach if he swallowed poison. Ipecac syrup is not recommended to be used for that purpose anymore.
When Vonnegut wrote this short story, the idea of a supercomputer may have been considered science fiction, but consider technological advancements made since the mid-twentieth century. Everyday, people carry around handheld computers and make phone calls from nearly any location around the world. A prime example of a modern day "Epicac" is the super computer used on Jeopardy. View the video clip below to see the computer in action. (This annotation contains a video)
Epicac, a computer, does not seem to function well when asked to solve mathematical equations, but when he writes poetry the "sluggishness and stammering clicks were gone." This is an example of
Epicac falls in love with Pat after learning what love is. Rather than reveal himself, he reveals his love through the narrator who also loves Pat. This is an allusion to the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano falls in love with Roxane, but because he is homely, Cyrano relies on his comely friend Christian to win over Roxane's heart. Cyrano is usually portrayed with a large nose. (This annotation contains an image)
Though EPICAC is a computer, he is personified as a man in love in all of the following examples except
Consider the title of the story and write your first impressions and associations below. After reading the text, revisit the meaning of the title to see if it has changed or has been enhanced.
The narrator reveals Knechtmann's first child, Karl Knechtmann, died after being born in a displaced-persons camp. Based on this fact, you can infer that
Knechtmann calls his son a "little treasure house." What does he mean by this metaphor?
Each time Heinz Knechtmann looks to celebrate his joyful news like the other new fathers, he realizes that he is alone. There is no one to call. Why?
Heinz's mood about the birth of his child changes from overjoyed to melancholy. What triggers this shift? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
When Heinz visits his wife and son in the hospital, his wife says, "They couldn't kill us, could they? ... here we are, alive as we can be." Is she speaking literally about Heinz and her? Or is she speaking about the baby? Once you have answered those questions, reread the title of the short story. Does it have new meaning?
TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW
The title of this story is an allusion to Macbeth's last soliloquy in the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth. In Macbeth's final scenes, his prophesied downfall is realized, and Macbeth must face his death. Watch the following video of a film version of Macbeth in which Patrick Stewart gives this famous speech. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the purpose of the dialogue between Lou and Em?
Because people are able to live well into their hundreds, when Gramps mentions getting ready for the "Big Trip Up Yonder," his family's reaction is
Sometime in the future, scientists discover that anti-gerasone is the key to eternal youth and life. Due to the prevalence of anti-gerasone, his entire extended family is living in a cramped one bedroom apartment. For this reason, Mortimer wants to pour it down the drain. Consider how desperate Mortimer must feel in order to perform such an act.
Gramps willfully rewrites his will to disinherit relatives, he sleeps in a double bed in the only bedroom in the home while his relatives sleep in sleeping bags on the floor, and he "spent almost all of the income from his fortune" on real bacon and eggs while his family eats sawdust. Which term best characterizes Gramps?
The battle over Gramps' room and the resulting arrests ironically gave all the Schwartzes what they wanted: space. In this case, a jail cell, but it is space.