Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

by

Kurt Vonnegut

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Breakfast of Champions: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sitting in the cocktail lounge, Vonnegut decides that Dwayne has taken a “course in speed-reading” at the Young Men’s Christian Association. This way, when Dwayne finds Kilgore’s book, he will be able to read it fast. Vonnegut then takes a “white pill” that his doctor has given him and told him to “take in moderations, two a day, in order not to feel blue.”
Vonnegut’s interjection that Dwayne has taken a speed-reading course is absurd but in keeping with his argument that art is often absurd. The “white pill” he takes further evidence of Vonnegut’s own mental illness.
Themes
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
Vonnegut also decides that Kilgore could never have made it to Midland City from New York in the time that he has given him, but there is no time to fix it now. “Let it stand,” Vonnegut writes. “Let it stand!” Vonnegut also decides to explain beforehand about a high school jacket Kilgore will see at the hospital after Dwayne attacks him.
Again, Kilgore’s ability to make it to Midland City is absurd, but as Vonnegut argues, so is art. Therefore, he “let[s] it stand!”
Themes
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
The jacket Kilgore sees at the hospital is from the only “Nigger high school” Midland City had for many years. The school was named after Crispus Attucks, a black man who was shot dead by British troops before the American Revolution. The black people who go to school there don’t call the school Crispus Attucks High School; instead they call it “Innocent Bystander High,” and the back of the jacket in question has a picture of a black man with a bullet hole in his head.
The school jackets worn by those at Crispus Attucks High School imply that black Americans, like Crispus Attucks himself was, are the “Innocent Bystanders” of America’s racist society. Black men are frequently the object of violence in America simply because of their skin color, which Vonnegut points out is sad and ridiculous. 
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Suddenly, Dwayne’s “bad chemicals” decide that it is time for him to discover “the secrets of life.” Dwayne approaches Kilgore, who is holding his book, Now It Can Be Told, and points to the book. “Is this it? Is this it?” Dwayne asks, pulling at the book. Kilgore doesn’t know what Dwayne is talking about, but he wants him to go away, so he agrees. “Yes—that’s it,” Kilgore says. Dwayne opens the book and begins to quickly read. “Everybody else is a robot, a machine,” the book says. Dwayne continues to devour the book on the spot. “You are pooped and demoralized,” he reads. “Why wouldn’t you be? Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.”
Kilgore’s book gives Dwayne the answers he is looking for. Much of his disillusionment with life and his struggles with depression stem from his wife’s suicide and his son’s sexuality. If everyone in Dwayne’s life is a robot as Kilgore’s book suggests, then Dwayne can avoid the painful implications of Celia’s death—that she was incredibly depressed and unhappy—and he can also avoid grappling with Bunny’s sexuality, which he considers abnormal and inappropriate. Thinking of his wife and son as machines allows Dwayne to avoid issues that he deems too uncomfortable to directly deal with.
Themes
People and Machines Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
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