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Grain of Hope in Breakfast of Champions

Grain of Hope in Breakfast of Champions

“I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there…the flags…I’m throwing out characters from my other books too. I’m not going to put on any more puppet shows.”

This proud exclamation is made in the introduction of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. It caught my attention and drew me to continue reading. The book continues to take the reader on a bizarre journey through the human mind. Our mental trip is made easier through Vonnegut’s childlike “artwork,” which mostly consists of underwear, guns, cows, and other odds and ends. Finishing the introduction I was instantly fed a synapse of the plot.

The story follows the mental decline of a rich Pontiac dealer, Dwayne Hoover, and the rise of an unknown science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, who is to become one of the most beloved and respected human beings in history. All this is revealed on the first page. In my closed mind, I figured that I already knew the plot, so there was no point in continuing. On a whim, I flipped through the book and saw the picture of a gravestone. On the gravestone was written, “Not even the Creator of the universe knew what the man was going to say next-perhaps the man was a better universe in its infancy.” For some reason this rather simple line hooked me and so I went back to page one and decided to read a bit more. To be honest, I’m glad I did.

As soon as I finished the first chapter, I was really hooked. It was one of the few novels I had ever read straight through from beginning to end in one all-night sitting. I’ll admit-so far this essay has been more of a narrative telling of my exploits with this novel, but I felt it necessary to explain a little about my initial feelings.

This book is pregnant with symbols. Many of the mechanics of the book (including the chapters) became symbols in Vonnegut’s hands. The first chapter goes into American culture in depth. It explains that in our country color means everything. “The sea pirates were white. The people who were already on the continent, who were already living full and imaginative lives, were copper-colored. When slavery was introduced, the slaves were black.

Good and Evil in Bless Me, Ultima

Good and Evil in Bless Me, Ultima

In Rodolfo Anaya’s novel, Bless Me, Ultima the author uses different settings in order to develop Antonio’s sense of good and evil.

An example of this would be Rosie’s, the local whorehouse. To Antonio, Rosie’s tempted his brothers and was the cause of their sins. In one of Antonio’s dreams, three figures “silently beckoned” (pg. 65) Antonio into the “house of the sinful women” (pg. 156). Antonio saw his brothers entering and he told Andrew, the last of the three to go in, not to enter. Andrew told Tony that he would wait until Tony lost his innocence and only then would Andrew go into the bordelo. So , to Antonio, seeing Andrew in the “evil house” (pg. 156) was a confirmation of Tony’s lost innocence and Tony wanted to stay innocent forever.

Another example of the evolution of Tony’s sense of good and evil through the utilisation of setting is Tony’s own home. To him, his home provided him with warmth and safety. This was due to the people who lived in the house. Antonio’s father creates a sense of protection in the home. When Tenorio and his men come to he house to take Ultima away, Tony’s father “would let no man invade his home” (pg 123). This gave Tony faith that as long as his father was around, he would be protected. Antonio’s mother made home a loving and caring place to be. She would always baby Antonio and give him the affection he needed whenever he needed it. The morning after Tony had seen Lupito killed, Ultima tells Tony’s mother not to be too hard on Antonio; he had a hard night last night. His mother puts her arms around Tony and holds him saying he “is only a boy, a baby yet” (Pg.28). The Virgin also makes the atmosphere of Antonio’s home peaceful and protected. Tony loves the Virgin Mary because “she always forgave” (Pg. 42). Tony thought she was “full of a quiet, peaceful love” (Pg.42) which she filled the home with. The most important person who contributed to the goodness of Antonio’s home was Ultima. She made Antonio feel as though her presence filled the home with safety, love, and a sense of security. When Tony saw Lupito get killed, it was Ultima who calmed him. Whenever he had a nightmare, Ultima was there to comfort Antonio and “[he] could sleep again” (Pg.

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