Kurt Vonnegut Short Fiction Analysis
After the publication of his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, however, the work of Kurt Vonnegut received increasingly serious critical commentary. He emerged as a consistent commentator on American culture through the second half of the twentieth century. His short stories range from satiric visions of grotesque future societies, which are extensions of modern societies, and portrayals of ordinary people, which reassert the stability of middle-class values. In his novels, the social satire predominates, and Vonnegut blends whimsical humor and something approaching despair as he exposes the foibles of American culture and a world verging on destruction through human thoughtlessness. As in the short stories, however, attention to an unheroic protagonist doing his or her best and to the value of “common human decency” persists.
Best known for his novels, Vonnegut acknowledged the ancillary interest of short stories for him. In the preface to his collection of short stories Welcome to the Monkey House, he describes the stories as “work I sold in order to finance the writing of the novels. Here one finds the fruits of Free Enterprise.” Vonnegut’s blunt comment, however, does not imply that the stories can be dismissed out of hand. The themes of the stories are the themes and concerns of all his work. Again, in the preface to Welcome to the Monkey House, Vonnegut describes those concerns in a characteristically tough...
(The entire section is 3290 words.)
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