What is the theme and main message "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater" puts forth?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater seems more a meditation than a novel, and a satiric one at that. In one sentence, for instance, the narrator mentions that one fault of the Constitution was that it did not stipulate a limit to how much money one man could make. In addition, those that inherit huge fortunes without doing anything seem unworthy of such riches. That others should have so much and some so little is wrong. At least the rich should be kind, is the message Vonnegut voices through his character, Mr. Rosewater, who name is a compound of Roosevelt and Barry Goldwater. The disparity of wealth and the resulting social and psychological consequences of its distribution is certainly the novel’s central theme. The message is one that Rosewater himself utters, "***dammit, be kind!"

This message touches upon the heart of Vonnegut himself, whose family experienced the effects of the Great Depression as his father felt worthless and without purpose because he lost his job; his mother committed suicide because she could not live in the style to which she was accustomed. But, Mr. Rosewater does not neglect those who have lost their jobs, especially the firefighters, who is their sense of dignity volunteer their time gratis rather than be idle.

He mentioned a revolution, too. He thought there might be one in about twenty years, and he thought it would be a good one, provided infantry veterans and volunteer firemen led it.
He was thrown in jail as a suspicious person.

In an effort to atone for his mistakes, Rosewater transforms himself from just a rich man who has inherited a fortune into a generous social fire fighter, one who seeks to rescue those who are smothered by the smoke and fire of the economic system.

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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

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