Deer in the Works by Kurt Vonnegurt

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Deer in the Works

Deer in the Works is a Cold War era short story by Kurt Vonnegut. It first appeared in Esquire in April, 1955, and was anthologized in Welcome to the Monkey House. It revolves around David Potter, a paper owner who finds new work as a a publicity writer at the mammoth Ilium Works because of financial strain who consequently leaves upon viewing the dehumanisation and quantification of human life.

Vonnegut's experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war, coupled with his anti-authoritarian stance and the events of the time─ Hiroshima, the Cuban Missile Crisis─ are prevalent in his work. Deer in the Works influenced by his experiences at the General Electric and his realisation of the individuals insignificance within the atmosphere of rising corporations and the influence they had. This portrayal of the protagonist as a willing participant who becomes apprehensive before finally rejecting the corporations oppressive regime is reminiscent of the personal reactions to the dropping of the atom bomb and subsequent mass nuclear homicide. This shift in ways of thinking happened across such a vast proportion of the population in an incredibly short amount of time. The fleeting nature of the period in which people attempted to justify the bomb dropping so quickly eroding into a pervasive fear of nuclear apocalypse and guilt, exposing the situation as morally questionable from the beginning.

The notion of people deifying a leader or government to the eventual detriment of their autonomy is also present in Deer in the Works, the people of Japan waiting for their emperor Hirohito to guide them after the devastation of their cities a parallel to David Potter's happy expectancy for Illium Works to lift him from his financial crisis. The kind of desensitised continuation of work despite the obvious malpractice of an employer is reminiscent of the government of the time's, smear campaign against the inferior and dangerous political ideology of communism...
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