Kurt Vonnegut

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Why is the birth of Heinz's child so important to him in "Adam" by Kurt Vonnegut?

The birth of Heinz's child is so important to him because he has lost his entire family while growing up in a concentration camp. He and his wife also lost their first child. This new baby is a way to connect them to all those they have lost and represents hope that joy can exist after tremendous loss.

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Heinz Knechtmann has lost a great deal over the course of his life. While growing up in a concentration camp, Heinz watched as every member of his family was led away and killed by the Nazis. With each death, a little piece of Heinz died, too; finally, he was the only Knechtmann left.

As Heinz awaits the birth of his child, he reflects on the short life of his first child, Karl. Karl had been named after Heinz's father, and when baby Karl died, Heinz was once again reminded of all the people he had lost in his life.

This new child signifies joy and hope. The young baby boy, born to Holocaust survivors, is tangible proof that life can go on in beautiful ways even after tremendous loss. Heinz's emotions contrast those of Sousa, the other father in the waiting room; Sousa views the birth of a seventh daughter as commonplace and even tiresome. To Heinz, the new life of his son is "the most wonderful thing that ever happened." The baby connects Heinz and his wife to all those who were lost in the Holocaust; Heinz believes that "everything is saved" in his young son.

The profundity of Heinz's collective losses once again strikes him as he longs to share his joy with family members. As he stares at five empty phone booths, Heinz is again reminded that there is "no one waiting for the news" of the baby's birth.

At his wife's side the next morning, Heinz is once again encouraged by the promise and hope that exists because of infant Peter Karl Knechtmann. Together, Heinz and his wife agree that the new life of their young son is absolutely "wonderful."

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