White Identity Problems in Kurt Vonnegut’s Science Fiction

Author: Meryem MENGOUCHI

Keywords: alienation, american identity, atomic annihilation, cat’s cradle, god bless you, mr. rosewater, kurt vonnegut, post-nuclear hero, postmodern prometheus, , post-war period, science fiction, science fiction protagonist , self-delusion, slapstick, slaughterhouse-five, white middle-class American

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol4no2.13

Kurt Vonnegut as an American post-war author sought to voice his anger with American foreign policy, arguing that it had a pervasive impact on the white middle-class individual. He used two mains types of protagonists to represent the struggle of this white middle-class individual. The first is a post-nuclear hero that is careless and indifferent to things around them. The second is characterized by a sort of obsessive madness about people’s well being and love. Both are victims of the atomic annihilation age which occurred after the Second World War and the fears that emanated of it. They have to look at their universe crawling to destruction and teach themselves to cope with it. The only escape that is possible for these protagonists is death. Vonnegut thus makes self-deluded, anxious, and mad protagonists to show a white middle-class individual who suffers an identity crisis because the discourses and claims of the government alienate them. This special middle-class is a minority that is marginalized by the mainstream bourgeois culture. Loneliness is a keyword in his works, he often depicts Americans around the world as lonely because the foreign policy of their country makes them misunderstood among others, and does not represent their true feelings. Lonesome No More and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater are novels that show kindness towards simple Americans. Understanding
the importance of this white American minority will help to understand
contemporary American politics and particularly the kind of people that are
elected in America.