Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions


Kurt Vonnegut

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Breakfast of Champions: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Meanwhile, Kilgore is still riding with the truck driver just outside Philadelphia. Kilgore has forgotten the trucker’s name, but he asks him about his truck. “The tractor alone cost twenty-eight thousand dollars,” and it has a “three hundred and twenty-four horsepower Cummins Diesel engine.” The truck is owned by the driver’s brother-in-law, and on the side of the trailer is written “PYRAMID” in tall letters. “Why would anybody in the business of highspeed transportation name his business and his trucks after buildings which haven’t moved an eighth of an inch since Christ was born?” Kilgore asks the driver. “He liked the sound of it,” the man answers.
Kilgore’s fixation on the word “pyramid” again underscores the postmodern understanding of the randomness of language. The driver’s brother-in-law chooses the name Pyramid for his business for completely arbitrary reasons, as it has nothing to do with trucks. The word “pyramid” for a business name also points to the idea of a pyramid scheme, which is a business model (illegal in the US) that hinges on recruiting new members rapidly rather than selling a lot of product.
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The truck driver asks Kilgore if he is married. “Three times,” Kilgore answers. Kilgore tells the driver about his son who “is a man now.” Kilgore’s son, Leo, left to join the military when he was a teenager, but he wrote Kilgore a letter before he left. “I pity you,” Leo said in the letter. “You’ve crawled up your own asshole and died.” Trout hasn’t heard from Leo in years, but a few years back two F.B.I. agents knocked on his door. “Your boy’s in bad trouble,” they told Kilgore. Leo had committed “high treason” and abandoned the military to join the Viet Cong. 
Kilgore’s bad relationship with his son and his three failed marriages are directly related to the “deep pessimism” he feels due to the extinction of the Bermuda Erns during his childhood. His father studied the birds in Bermuda and Kilgore was forced to watch them die. This is why Leo “pities” Kilgore—the destruction of the planet has turned him into a hateful man.
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