Kurt Vonnegut: A Canary in a Coal Mine

Kurt Vonnegut Served as a sensitive cell in the organism of American Society during the 1960\'s. His work alerted the public about the absurdity of modern warfare and an increasingly mechanized and impersonal society in which humans were essentially worthless and degenerated. The satirical tone and sardonic humor allowed people to read his works and laugh at their own misfortune.

Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, where he was reared. His father was an architect, as his grandfather had been. Though the family\'s fortune was eroded during the Depression-his father went without an architectural commission from 1929 to 1940-they were well-to-do. Kurt attended Shortridge High School, where he was the editor of the nations oldest daily high school paper, the Echo. (((high school quote)))
Vonnegut was expected to become a scientist, and when he went to Cornell in 1940, he chose, at the urging of his father, to major in chemistry. (((college quote))) "Chemistry was everything then," he said. "It was a magic word in the thirties. The Germans, of course, had chemistry, and they were going to take apart the universe and put it together again. At Cornell, he was the managing editor and columnist for its daily paper, the Sun. Among . Among ng and put it together again. At Cornell, he was the managing editor and columnist for its daily paper, the Sun. Among . Among ng and put it together again. At Cornell, he was the managing editor and columnist for its daily paper, the Sun. Among . Among ng and put it together again. At Cornell, he was the managing editor and columnist for its daily paper, the Sun. Among . Among ng and put it together again. At Cornell, he was the managing editor and columnist for its daily paper, the Sun. Among interned as a prisoner of war i!
n Dresden, Germany. It was here that he experienced what would later become the basis for one of his best-selling novels, Slaughterhouse-Five. "(Dresden) was the first fancy city I\'d ever seen. Then a siren went off-it was February 13, 1945-and we went down two stories under the pavement into a big meat locker. It was cool there, with (animal) cadavers hanging all around. When we came up the city was gone." This experience, or rather, disaster, was the Allied firebombing of Dresden in which over 130,000 people, mostly citizens, died for no apparent reason. Despite the horror of the incident, he maintains that the experience did not change his way of thinking, but rather gave him another viewpoint from which to observe the absurdity and cruelty of the human race. "The importance of Dresden in my life has been considerably exaggerated because my book about it became a best seller." (p. 94 CWV)
Vonnegut returned to the United States determined tp be a writer, and to deal with the experience of Dresden, though it was nearly 25 years before he was able to do so. In May of 1945 he married Jane Marie Cox. His first book, Player Piano, was published in 1952. It is an account of life in the future in a town called Ilium, NY, modeled on Schenectady, where Vonnegut, in his late 20\'s, worked as a public relations man for General Electric. The world that Player Piano envisions is run by computers, an idea which he came across while working at General Electric. Only those who can compete economically with the computers-those whose IQ qualifies them as managers or whose trades are not yet automated-are in any way free. Vonnegut was extremely opposed to this type of mechanization, which he saw as threatening and degrading to the dignity of the common man, and therefore, the human race as a whole. The novel\'s hero, Paul Proteus, proclaims, "I deny that there is any natural or div!
ine law requiring that machines, efficiency, and organization should forever increase in scope, power and complexity..."
Doing the book was enough to liberate Vonnegut from his job at G.E., a job that he truly despised. He quit and moved to Cape Cod in 1950. Player Piano sold just 3,500 copies, so for the next few years he was forced to support himself with short