Is Galápagos actually satire? In what way?

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Kurt Vonnegut's novel Galápagos can definitely be categorized as a satire. A satire is defined as the use of humorous exaggeration, witty ridicule, or some other form of irony to shine a light on the flaws of humanity or society as a whole. In Galápagos , the whole...

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Kurt Vonnegut's novel Galápagos can definitely be categorized as a satire. A satire is defined as the use of humorous exaggeration, witty ridicule, or some other form of irony to shine a light on the flaws of humanity or society as a whole. In Galápagos, the whole premise of Leon Trout's role in the novel is to reflect on how humans in our current century are getting everything wrong; his role in and of itself is satirical, as Leon Trout is the voice of wisdom from the future that explains the mistakes humans have made in a completely improbable and often humorous way.

Some critics have called Leon Trout the alter ego of Kurt Vonnegut; if that is true, then all of Leon Trout's comments about humans in the twentieth century are really Vonnegut's own remarks. When Leon Trout speaks of the primitive forms humans are now taking (in the 'future' of the novel), complete with flippers and tiny brains, he is mocking the brains humans currently possess and use to make decisions he, and perhaps Vonnegut himself, feels are terrible. The impossibility of Leon's point of view can be discussed as a form of ridicule, a way to mock the so-called intelligentsia who are determining the course of history in contemporary America.

The government and military in particular are targets of Vonnegut's satire as Leon Trout discusses the use of weapons and the act of torture specifically as strategies impossible to employ with flippers for hands. Additionally, Vonnegut's use of celebrity culture in Galápagos can be discussed as satirical, as celebrities make up part of the elite culture which Leon blames for the destruction of the world as we in the twentieth century knew it. Both the government and celebrities have a powerful influence on today's society, so theirs are the 'big brains' behind the economic, political, and social structures that are at fault; these brains, ironically, are the ones deemed to be evolutionary mistakes that are eventually corrected. Vonnegut's criticism of these cultural leaders is thinly veiled; his witty tone and the ridiculousness of his novel's premise combine in this satire that turns the theory of evolution upside-down in order to make a point about flawed notions of progress.

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