Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

by

Kurt Vonnegut

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Breakfast of Champions: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After leaving the police station, Kilgore gets a ride with a truck driver “hauling seventy-eight thousand pounds of Spanish olives.” The driver, “who is white,” tells Kilgore that “he used to be a hunter and a fisherman.” Now, it “breaks his heart” to think of the state of the woods and rivers compared to just one hundred years earlier. “And when you think of the shit that most of these factories make—wash day products, catfood, pop—” the trucker says.
Ironically, the truck driver laments the deteriorating state of the environment but then actively contributes to the problem through his profession as a truck driver. He pumps pollution into the air to bring Spanish olives, a completely arbitrary commodity, to the masses. Here, Vonnegut implies that olives aren’t worth the damage delivering them causes the environment.
Themes
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
The truck driver “has a point,” Vonnegut writes. “The planet is being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what is being manufactured is lousy, by and large.” Kilgore tells the trucker that he too used to be “a conservationist,” but he has “given it up.” “More power to Standard Oil,” Kilgore yells. “Up your ass with Mobil gas.” The trucker is confused. “You’re kidding,” he says.
Here, Kilgore’s comment is obviously sarcastic but nonetheless true. Kilgore, like many people in American society, chooses to be apathetic about environmental damage because he believes the damage is too far gone to actually do something about it, so he continues his destructive behavior. 
Themes
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Kilgore tells the truck driver that “God isn’t any conservationist,” which would make anybody who tries to be one “sacrilegious.” The driver is “impressed,” and he can’t think of a single story about conservation in the Bible. “Unless you want to count the story about the Flood,” Kilgore says. “I can’t tell if you’re serious or not,” the trucker says to Kilgore. “I won’t know myself until I find out whether life is serious or not,” Kilgore answers.
Kilgore’s comment about the Bible and conservation is absurd, but it points to those who use the Bible to justify wrongdoing. The Biblical story of Ham and his sons has long since been used to excuse racism and slavery, and by attempting to do the same with the environment, Vonnegut points out how ridiculous this defense really is.
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
As they drive, Kilgore makes up a story called “Gilgongo!” about a planet where there is “too much creation going on.” In the story, a man is honored for killing a species of “darling little panda bears.” In their language, “Gilgongo” means “extinct,” and since there are “too many species on the planet,” it is their objective to make as many species “Gilgongo” as possible. As they go about their business trying to kill everything, the planet is “suffocated at last by a living blanket” made of “passenger pigeons and eagles and Bermuda Erns and whooping cranes.”
“Gilongo!” again reflects Vonnegut’s argument regarding the effects of overpopulation on the destruction of the planet. The planet’s suffocation by living birds is ironic since birds, particularly the Bermuda Ern which became extinct in Kilgore’s childhood and caused his “deep pessimism,” have been suffocated and killed by humankind’s pollution.
Themes
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
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