The Mind of Kurt Vonnegut

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The Mind of Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the preeminent writers of the later

half of the twentieth century. His works are all windows into his

mind, a literary psychoanalysis. He examines himself as a cog in

the corporate machine in "Deer in the Works"; as a writer through

the eyes of Kilgore Trout in several works; and most importantly,

as a prisoner of war in Slaughterhouse-Five.

Vonnegut created short stories and novels that dealt with

events in his life. One of the most obvious self examinations is

in "Deer in the Works". The short story is based on his

experiences as a publicist at the General Electric Company

Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York. "Deer in the Works"

takes place over two days in the life of David Potter as he

begins his employment at the Ilium Works of the Federal Apparatus

Corporation. He is assigned to cover a deer trapped in a remote

corner of the Works. Potter gets lost in the Works himself and

feels just as trapped as the deer. He eventually frees the deer

and escapes the works to return to his newspaper. Vonnegut felt

trapped like Potter does, and left General Electric in 1951 to

write full time.

Before World War II, Vonnegut was enrolled at Cornell

University studying biochemistry. He was surrounded by scientists

and machines and as a result, his first literary works were based

on that influence. Vonnegutøs early writings were not accepted as

serious, mainstream literature due to their scientific nature. He

was considered a science fiction writer by literary critics. That

label caused him to be largely ignored.

He created the character Kilgore Trout, a science fiction

writer, to...

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...hort-term events like that. Dresden was

astonishing, but experiences can be astonishing

without changing you" (Reed 776).

Despite these claims to the contrary, the experiences at Dresden

had always played a large part in his writings.

His experiences have always shaped what Kurt Vonnegut has

written. He said to his brother, Bernard, that he wrote for an

audience of one, his dead sister; but he truly wrote for himself.

He wrote about his experiences as a prisoner in

Slaughterhouse-Five, as a publicist in a major corporation in

"Deer in the Works", and as a writer through the character

Kilgore Trout. Vonnegut examined his thoughts through the eyes of

David Potter, Kilgore Trout, and Billy Pilgrim. His works are all

deeply personal windows into the psyche of Kurt Vonnegut.
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