Forty-second Street is “a dangerous place” due to “chemicals and the uneven distribution of wealth.” Some of the people there are “like Dwayne” and naturally have “bad chemicals” in their heads, but many people “buy bad chemicals” and “eat them or sniff them.” They even “inject” chemicals using a special “device.” Vonnegut includes a drawing of a hypodermic needle.
Vonnegut isolates capitalism as one of the main reasons for the uneven distribution of wealth, and here, he directly blames that inequality for the drug crisis that is gripping America. In this way, Vonnegut argues that the effects of capitalism are varied and go beyond matters of mere money, which ultimately affects mental health as well.
Trout tells the manager of the theater that he is looking for “a cheap hotel,” and they decide to walk together. The manager’s family thinks he is working at an engineering firm. “Hard times,” Kilgore says. A white Oldsmobile begins to closely follow them, and the car is the last thing Kilgore remembers before waking up under the Queensboro Bridge with “his trousers and underpants around his ankles” and all his money gone.
Kilgore’s comment, “Hard times,” is another reflection of the uneven distribution of wealth. The theater manager is forced to work a job that he is implied to be overqualified for just to make ends meet. What’s worse, he then must lie to his family about because he is ashamed. Kilgore and the manager are in a rough part of town, and this implies that they are ultimately robbed because of the unequal distribution of wealth. The poor have no other way to gain wealth, so they steal it.