In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, what negative roles does Eliot's family play?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Looking closely at both Eliot and Sylvia, one can easily see the negative roles that they play.  In the case of Eliot (the protagonist), while he puts on a front of positive roles (humanitarian, husband, and millionaire), he simultaneously plays the negative roles of alcoholic, mental health patient and father of over fifty illegitimate children.  Eliot is constantly drunk on “Rosewater Golden Lager Ambrosia Beer” as well as the well-known Southern Comfort.  Eliot is “certifiably insane,” hence his negative role as a mental health patient.  He seems to be wandering aimlessly through life, the main subject of Vonnegut’s satire.  Eliot refers to his mentally ill self as an “aimless fool” as he gives away his money through the Rosewater Foundation.  Eliot also plays the role of "father" to over fifty children.  This fatherhood is truly a role Eliot plays in that it is not real. Eliot is essentially a eunuch and not sexually active.  The children serve to assure the continuation of Eliot’s humanitarianism. Eliot’s “fatherhood” proves that he has his own reality and is, in fact, insane.  Sylvia Du Vrais Zetterling Rosewater, Eliot’s wife, first tries to play the role of doting wife in order to secure Eliot’s money, but eventually merges into the role of bitter divorcee.  Sylvia continually refers to the people Eliot tries to help as “useless” and is eventually “diagnosed” with “Samaritrophia . . . hysterical indifference to the troubles of those less fortunate than oneself.” 

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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

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