Study Guide

The Sirens of Titan

by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The Sirens of Titan Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Malachi Constant arrives at the Rumfoord estate to witness a materialization. Winston Niles Rumfoord, who is chrono-synclastic infundibula, scatters everywhere between the sun and Betelgeuse and appears various places sporadically. He is to materialize and Constant is invited to witness. Constant is a billionaire playboy who inherits his father Noel’s estate.

Rumfoord materializes and tells Constant that he, Constant, will eventually go to Mars, Mercury, back to Earth, then to Titan. He and Beatrice, Rumfoord’s wife, will have a child named Chrono. Chrono will pick up a good-luck piece on Mars and carry it to Titan. Beatrice and Constant are chary of their union. Constant sells the company that owns the only known transportation to Mars, which is a spaceship called The Whale, which Beatrice buys. This buying and selling, along with Constant’s fifty-six-day party, which ends with him giving away all his oil wells, ruins Constant financially, and Beatrice is likewise ruined financially.

Upon losing all his money, Constant is open for options. Secret agents from Mars recruit him for the Martian army. Beatrice is surreptitiously recruited. On the spaceship to Mars, Constant rapes Beatrice. When on Mars, they are separated and their memories are erased from their brains.

Constant begins as an officer but after eight years he is made a private and is nicknamed Unk. His first act after having his memory cleared out for the seventh time is to execute his best friend Stony Stevenson in front of ten thousand Martian soldiers. Before Unk strangles Stevenson, Stevenson manages to tell him, “Blue stone . . . Barrack twelve . . . letter.” Unk finds the stone and the letter. Written on it are things about Stevenson; about the antennas under the soldiers’ skulls, which make them do whatever the commanders want; about Beatrice and Chrono; and about the Martian army and its plans to make war on Earth. It informs Unk that Boaz, a private first class in the army, does not have an antenna in his head and that he is the one who gives pain to everyone and controls everyone in Unk’s squad....

(The entire section is 868 words.)