Kurt Vonnegut: a Man Without a Country

Topics: Laughter, Humour, Defence mechanism Pages: 4 (1205 words) Published: April 22, 2009
Vonnegut prescribes laughter for all things, for without laughter life would seem a lot more painful. “Humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be, to protect yourself,” states Vonnegut (129.) To go on and live life you need to be able to laugh at your mistakes, just as to continue believing in a political system you need to be able to laugh at its faults. He also believes that at some point humor becomes less of a shield against the harsh truth of life and politics. He says, “Finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn’t work anymore” (129.) It would seem with age the seriousness of things out-weighs the humor that can be found in them.

In life, Vonnegut used humor to tap into adult conversations he could otherwise not approach. He also found laugher as an escape from reality while being bombed in Dresden in World War Two. Laugher is universal, and can be found in any and all situations. Vonnegut believes there are few occasions when humor cannot be used, but also believes humor should not offend.

Vonnegut is very humorous about politics. “The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick, and Colon” (40.) With his contrasting views on politics and how the United States should be run, laugher is the only cure for Vonnegut’s disapproval. He knows he cannot snap his fingers and change policies or stop wars, but he knows he can laugh about them, and laughter can make anyone feel better, if only for a moment.

It seems that later in life Vonnegut had witnessed too many grim situations to be able to laugh so much at life and politics. “It may be that I am no longer able to joke- that it is no longer a satisfactory defense mechanism,” he states (129.) Seeing family and friends die may contribute to his feelings, as well as age, but he is still quite humorous in his writings.

I agree with Vonnegut on laughter: it is essential to life....

Cited: Vonnegut, Kurt. A Man Without A Country. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005.
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