Style in Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions"

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In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut uses a very real, direct, and sometimes playful style. In the preface, he speaks directly to the reader, fully exposing his personality, his reasons for writing the novel, as well as how he intends to write the novel. In doing this, Vonnegut sets up the novel perfectly by basically telling the reader what they are to expect. Rather than spend multiple chapters establishing the tone, the various themes, and the other elements of the novel, he covers them all briefly in the preface.

Vonnegut's style in the preface gives the reader an understanding of Vonnegut himself- stories from his past, his reasons for writing the novel, and his thoughts on certain elements of the novel. He does this in a way that makes him very likeable. Sarcasm is one method he uses to add to the realism of his narration; he begins the preface by stating that the expression which the book takes its title from is "a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc., for use on a breakfast cereal product…the book is not intended to indicate an association with or sponsorship by General Mills, nor is it intended to disparage their fine products." (85) This quote immediately exposes the reader to Vonnegut's sarcastic wit, and also establishes that the book is not going to read as seriously as many novels do. Vonnegut goes on to describe where some of the ideas in the novel are from. One of the main characters in the novel, Dwayne Hoover, is going insane, and his insanity was catalyzed by an idea presented in one of Kilgore Trout's science-fiction novels- that all humans are actually robots, and that Mr. Hoover was the only real human. Vonnegut says that he thinks of humans as "huge, rubbery test tubes." (86) By telling the history behind one of the central elements of the plot, Vonnegut makes the novel more personal to him. This adds more to the direct nature of the novel- he lets the reader know that the novel isn't based on a bunch of things that he made up,...
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