Kurt Vonnegut, the pessimistic optimist Essay

673 Words Jun 6th, 2014 3 Pages
Kurt Vonnegut, the pessimistic optimist

Kurt Vonnegut is widely regarded as a pessimist, the evidence found within the short stories of Kilgore Trout actually prove the opposite. Kurt Vonnegut is very much an optimist; the proof is in his critique of society. By pointing out the inherent flaws, selfish actions, and destructive tendencies within the human race Vonnegut is hopeful that by reading his stories and contemplating their meaning a light bulb will turn on and prompt an enlightened perspective and conscientious behavior. Not many things within Vonnegut’s life have given him reason to be an optimist, a few of these reasons are widely known facts that Vonnegut himself speaks on in many of his books. One of the most
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Vonnegut is the first to admit (2) that he makes his living by being impolite. He goes on to say that he may not be the most intelligent or stable person around, though it's not necessarily his fault, because other people have put the things in his head that don't fit together nicely, that are useless and ugly, and are out of proportion (5).

Above all else, Kurt Vonnegut is a pacifist, and his pacifistic views are the major theme of Slaughterhouse-Five. They form a definite undercurrent in the other three novels that are under study as well.

Through the mouth of Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut states his opinion on what the human race deserves, and what we deserve is to die horribly, since we have behaved so cruelly and wastefully on a planet that is so sweet (BC 18). Vonnegut has already established at this juncture that the chief weapon of the sea pirates "was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were" (BC 12). Thus, it comes as no surprise that Vonnegut believes we deserve to die horribly.

Possibly the best insight he lends is that we are actually de-evolving, that we were at our best when we were innocent great apes with a limited means for doing mischief (36). He repeats this view a few pages later when he states that a lovely thing to be on this planet is an idiot, better even than being highly
intelligent,

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