God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut tells the story of a man who wants to help the less fortunate and another man who wants to gain control of his employer's fortune.

Eliot Rosewater is a veteran and the head of the Rosewater foundation, which oversees millions used for charitable donations and helping people. He decides to go out into America and meet people, view small towns, and try to figure out how to help people more. He ends up in Rosewater, Indiana, and decides that he'll help those people.

Meanwhile, Norman Mushari, a lawyer for the Rosewater Foundation, is scheming to prove that Eliot is insane so that the money goes to his heir, Fred. Mushari believes he can control Fred and profit from this. He tracks Eliot, recording his conversations and saving his letters. Eventually, he pays people in Rosewater to say negative things about him. His actions become obvious to Lister, Eliot, and their lawyer; Mushari is unsuccessful in his gambit.

Eliot's plans enrage his father and distress his wife. Sylvia eventually divorces him, returns to Paris, and eventually enters a nunnery in Belgium where she's not allowed to speak. Eliot spends a year in a mental institution and is visited by his favorite science fiction author, Kilgore Trout. Trout explains that the things Eliot is doing are good things even if they don't make a great impact. He says that it's important to care about people simply because they are people. He helps show Eliot's father, Senator Lister Rosewater, that Eliot isn't insane. This helps Eliot keep control of the Foundation.

Ultimately Eliot claims all the fatherless children in Rosewater as his own children. They'll receive his inheritance. He gets the idea from Mushari having women pretend Eliot fathered their children. His father is trying to defend him and proves the first woman who said Eliot fathered her children was lying—but Eliot doesn't care about their genetics. Eliot says to let the children he's claimed know that he loves them no matter what they grow up to be.

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