April 11, 2011
Breakfast of Champions Assignment
Although the overall message that American’s are “machines” is clearly stated to the reader, Kurt Vonnegut also includes many hidden themes throughout the text. These include race, class, gender, overpopulation as well as others. The narrator makes it clear to distinguish each new characters race in the novel. Throughout the text, it becomes clear that Vonnegut makes a clear distinction between whites and blacks. The reader starts to question whether or not the narrator is in fact racist. On numerous occasions, the black population are stereotyped and on occasion referred to as “reindeers” or animals. Both the Lesabre couple and the narrator make these direct connections, as they are displeased that they keep reproducing more and more blacks. The racial term “nigger” is thrown around like some of the most common words in our English language. The racism also extends to Vonnegut’s main point that American’s are machines. Blacks are even more like machines because this is how whites have always viewed them aging all the way back to slavery. Vonnegut also includes the story of Dwayne’s stepfather, which tells about the racist town of Sheperdstown. Signs in the city included, “Nigger! This is Shepherdstown. God Help you if the sun ever sets on you here” (245)! Distinctions and emphasis on race are present all throughout the text that often flirts with racism with the narrator. Question: Do you believe the narrator is in fact racist? Why or why not?