November 11, 1922-April 11, 2007 http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/ae/print/2012/sep/19/fresh- appraisal-kurt-vonnegut-release-his-second-p/
Early Years Father and grand father both attended MIT and studied architecture Mother committed suicide while serving in World War II Attended Cornell University as a chemistry major, however, he assisted in the school paper, “The Cornell Sun”
Adult Years Attended The University of Chicago to get a graduate degree in Anthropology using Cat’s Cradle as his thesis work Taught English lectures at Harvard and the City College of New York Died in 2007 after falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a head trauma. http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5094321ceab8eacc31000005/image.jpg
Writing Highlights Writing often employed dark humor Typical works included science fiction aspects Satirical aspects are prevalent throughout much of his work
Historical Context (Slaughterhouse-Five) Kurt Vonnegut served in World War II, and used the experiences that he gained in this combat experience to write Slaughterhouse-Five. The novel was intended to be an anti- war book, with an ironic climax in the death of one man, rather than that of a major bombing.
Slaughterhouse-Five This novel implements an anti war stance expressing Vonnegut’s feelings towards his experiences in World War II The climax of the book being the killing of a single man, rather than the large bombing, highlighting the absurd nature of war. The entire novel itself concludes in yet another absurd way, leaving the reader to question the validity of the narration.
Historical Context (EPICAC) This story was written shortly after the first general propose computer ENIAC went online. ENIAC went online on July 29 th, 1947, while Vonnegut’s short story was published in 1950.
EPICAC (Short Work) In this short story, the main character is in love with a coworker who works on the super computer EPICAC. He proposes, but she denies him for not being romantic enough.
EPICAC The main character then uses EPICAC to compose poetry for him to gain the affection of Pat. When the main character asks EPICAC for a proposal, the computer responds that it loves Pat, and cannot provide one EPICAC eventually produces a proposal and enough poems to last 500 years, and then destroys itself.
Main Concept 1 Satire ‘EPICAC’ employs the use of satire to illustrate the sometimes preposterous conditions of Love and Hate EPICAC’s ‘love’ for Pat and his self destruction (and the destruction of $776,434,927.54 in tax payer money) is an illustration of ridiculous, and extreme situations unlikely in real life.
Main Concept 2 Free Will and Fate The realization by EPICAC that he will never be able to live a life like that of the narrator (able to love and be loved) leads ultimately to his demise. This theme reflects the nature of individuals to want to be loved; to live out their own individual dreams, and because EPICAC is a computer, his fate is predetermined.
Main Concept 3 Irony Throughout the story, the reader would expect EPICAC to be simply a computer, however as the story progresses, he becomes in a way, more human than the narrator. This seemingly human nature of EPICAC comes from his sense of Love and romance that would not be expected of a computer.
Love/Hate in EPICAC The concept of Love and Hate is developed in this short story through the interactions of the narrator and Pat, as well as with EPICAC, and EPICAC’s ‘feelings’ towards Pat throughout the story. The story is that of a realization of love, while the narrator uses EPICAC to produce gifts for Pat, the computer, ironically, develops strong feelings for Pat.
Expectations Versus Reality I personally find Vonnegut’s experiences and areas of study when compared to his later professions and achievements to be rather far from expectation. Having attended college studying chemistry, fighting in World War II, and then earning a graduate degree in anthropology; having ended up as a critically acclaimed author and an English professor at Harvard is far from expectations (in my opinion).
Personal Life Vonnegut after returning from his service in World War II married Jane Marie Cox, his childhood sweetheart, and had three children. After divorcing her, he later married Jill Krementz, and raised seven children; three from his first marriage, and four adopted children. Of these adopted children, three had belonged to his sister whom had passed away due to having had cancer.