Critical Analysis of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. Here he has described the funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.
It is a brilliant piece of social commentary on modern America that continues to be relevant in the new millennium. He explores racism, pollution, and sexuality in a way that is both simple and telling.
Breakfast of Champions is a darkly humorous tale about the brief meeting of two men: the elderly science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the successful Pontiac salesman Dwayne Hoover.
While the novel appears to be full of random tangents and Sharpie drawings, Vonnegut actually uses these to highlight the ridiculous and shallow aspects of American society. The cartoon helps us to show how people do not pay attention to context or details; they act on impulse without logic.
Vonnegut also covers a number of modern social issues in the novel, one being racism. Vonnegut plainly points out racial discrimination and preconceptions without worrying about what is politically correct.
Instead of trying to cover up an embarrassing part of American history or pretending that racism is gone, Vonnegut exposes it plainly and without frills. His honesty leaves the reader unable to avoid racism and forces them to examine whether or not it is present today.
Another social issue Vonnegut points out is pollution. People’s careless attitude is extraordinarily obvious in Breakfast of Champions. Few people stop to think about what has been done to the land. The carelessness of society is exposed leaving the readers to decide for themselves how to feel about it and what to do.
While Breakfast of Champions is an extremely entertaining satire, it is certainly not for people who are traditional or easily offended. For instance, Vonnegut points out America’s preoccupation with sex by going on tangents about the penis size of various male characters as well as the body measurements of the female characters.
The incidence of sex in American thought and media is made abundantly clear, but for a reader that cannot look past this type of content to see the commentary, this is not the book for them.
Breakfast of Champions is a smart and interesting read that comments on many different aspects of modern American society. While its content may not appeal to more conservative readers, it is the perfect choice for any person that enjoys dark comedy and great satire. The novel attacks many things: slavery, racism, commercial greed, jingoism, ecology, capitalism, imperialism, overpopulation, etc., all of these aimed precisely at modern American society.
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