Born: November 11, 1922 Indianapolis, Indiana American writer, essayist, and dramatist Kurt Vonnegut is acknowledged as a major voice in American literature and applauded for his subtle criticisms and sharp portrayal of modern society. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of a successful architect, Kurt Sr., and his wife, Edith Sophia. Vonnegut was raised along with his sister, Alice, and brother Bernard (whom he spoke of frequently in his works). Fourth-generation Germans, the children were never exposed to their heritage because of the anti-German attitudes that had spread throughout the United States after World War I (1914–18; a war in which many European countries, some Middle Eastern nations, Russia, and the United States fought against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey). Because of the Great Depression (the severe economic downturn in the 1930s), the Vonneguts lost most of their wealth and the household was never the same. Vonnegut's father fell into severe depression and his mother died after overdosing on sleeping pills the night before Mother's Day. This attainment and loss of the "American Dream" would become the theme of many of Vonnegut's writings. After attending Cornell University, where he majored in chemistry and biology, he enlisted in the United States Army, serving in the World War II (1939–45; a war fought between the Axis powers: Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies: England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States). This would set the stage for another crucial element for his writings when he was taken prisoner by the German army. Following the war, Vonnegut studied anthropology at the University of Chicago and later moved to Schenectady, New York, to work as a publicist for the General Electric Corporation. During this period, he also began submitting short stories to various journals, and in 1951, he resigned his position at General Electric to devote his time solely to writing.
What is utopia? Utopia is an ideal place or state. There are five basic elements to Utopia. Everlasting life All good and no evil Infinite provision of all tangible and intangible needs and wants for existence, without any required effort to obtain those provisions; A perfect balance between the individual and society; and Complete knowledge.
Questions How does this story convey the idea of a utopian society? How does the story reflect the ideas of the author regarding society vs. individuality? What are the pros and cons of a utopian society as reflected in the story? What is Kurt Vonnegut purpose in writing this story?
Components of a Plot: Exposition: the beginning of the story, establishment of setting and characters Conflict: the problem(s) faced by the characters Rising Action: events in the story leading up to the climax Climax: the culmination of events in the story, point of highest reader interest Falling Action: events leading to the solving of the story’s problems Resolution: how events and problems of the story are solved
Vocabulary Story Word List consternation cower neutralizing synchronizing vigilance wince
Homework: Connecting the Text: In a short essay students will seek to connect School Laws, US Constitution, Florida Law and their implications on individuality and government control to the message conveyed in Harrison Bergeron. Exit Slip : Benchmark: What role do all the elements of plot, the conflict, and the characters play in the effectiveness of the author's ability to convey a story and its message effectively? Thematic: Is there a place for uniformity in our society and if so where does that uniformity in your opinion interfer with personal expression/individuality?