Symptomatic of Excess: Apocalypse in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut


Katie Robinson

Publication Date

January 2009

Document Type



English Language and Literature


Dr. Prior was a reader on the committee for this thesis.


The works of Kurt Vonnegut are best known to his readers for their striking comedy and satirical critiques of American society. Vonnegut presents the reader with a terrifyingly recognizable truth concerning America, yet he leaves the reader with laughter instead of feelings of helplessness. Despite Vonnegut's comical way of addressing mankind's shortcomings, he does emphasize real problems in America that demand attention. Vonnegut notes that the darkness of his novels grows "out of frustration," saying, "I think there is so much we can do--things that are cheap--that we're not doing" ("Playboy Interview" 255). Vonnegut's texts explain that if mankind does not pay attention to these issues, the consequence could be disastrous. In his works, he does this by repeatedly detailing apocalypses, both the physical destruction of the world and a mental apocalypse within a character's mind.