The Titles Of Breakfast Of Champions Essays Examples
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Literature, Vehicles, Technology, Novel, People, Sports, Breakfast, Company
Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye, Blue Monday, written by author Kurt Vonnegut as a gift to himself on his fiftieth birthday, is a very complex novel. One of the themes of the novel is that the things people do are random and meaningless. Another theme of the novel explores the idea that human behavior is deterministic and automatic. These two themes are reflected in the two titles of the book.
The primary title of the novel, Breakfast of Champions, was chosen by Vonnegut simply because he liked the way it sounded. Vonnegut alludes to this fact and to the fact that the name doesn't have any particular meaning on page 70, in which Kilgore Trout, a little-known science fiction writer, has been invited to speak at the Midland City Festival of the Arts. He is hitchhiking his way to the festival with a truck driver. The truck driver tells Kilgore that the truck is owned by the Pyramid Trucking Company. Kilgore asks the truck driver, “Why would anyone in the business of high speed transportation name his business and his trucks after buildings which haven't moved an eight of an inch since Christ was born?” The truck driver answers, “He liked the sound of it. Don't you like the sound of it?” Kurt Vonnegut knew that “Breakfast of Champions” was the trademarked name of a popular cereal, but he chose it for the name of his novel anyways because he “liked the sound of it.” The phrase “breakfast of champions” doesn't have any specific meaning and only appears in one place in the novel. This choice of title highlights the idea that people do things that are arbitrary and random.
The secondary title of the novel, Goodbye, Blue Monday, has a more complex meaning than Breakfast of Champions. The title Goodbye, Blue Monday has to do with one of the central themes of the book, the idea of man as machine. Kurt Vonnegut believes that people are biological machines that do, think, and say things automatically, according to the way their “chemicals” make them behave. Our chemicals turn us into “loving machines, hating machines, greedy machines, unselfish machines, cowardly machines, truthful machines, lying machines, funny machines (p 148)”.
Dwayne Hoover is a machine whose chemicals are causing him to go insane. He is a wealthy Pontiac dealer in the imaginary town of Midland City. Dwayne got the money to buy a Pontiac agency by selling stock in his other company, called the Midland City Ordnance Company, which sold washing machines. The motto of the company is “Goodbye, Blue Monday.” The motto was made up with the idea that women were usually grumpy on Mondays because that was the day they did the laundry. A clothes washing machine would make their day easier so they could say “goodbye” to blue Monday. The motto was meaningless, though, because women don't just do the laundry on Monday but every day of the week. The company went with the motto because its creator “liked the sound of it.”
On the day Dwayne meets Kilgore Trout, he goes on a rampage and injures eleven people. He does this in response to reading Trout's story, which tells him that he is the only human with free will and everybody else is a robot. Because Dwayne is going insane, he takes this story literally and begins attacking people, thinking they are not real. Later on, as he is on his way to the hospital, Dwayne randomly blurts out “Goodbye, blue Monday!” He says this for no particular reason except that his “chemicals” are unbalanced and are making him say and do things that are irrational. Therefore, the secondary title Goodbye, Blue Monday was chosen to emphasize that the things people say and do are arbitrarily based on the way their “chemicals” are controlling them. The phrase “goodbye, blue Monday” is basically meaningless, and also highlights the fact that the things people do are meaningless.
The two titles Breakfast of Champions and Goodbye, Blue Monday represent two complementary themes of the novel by Kurt Vonnegut. The titles were chosen because Vonnegut liked the way they sounded, and because they reinforce the novel's themes of the arbitrary and deterministic nature of man.