Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

by

Kurt Vonnegut

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Dwayne Hoover Character Analysis

One of the main characters in Breakfast of Champions and the owner/operator of Dwayne Hoover’s Exit Eleven Pontiac Village. Dwayne is Celia’s husband, Bunny’s father, and stepbrother to the twins, Lyle and Kyle. Dwayne personifies capitalist greed, and as the owner of nearly twenty local businesses, he is fueled by the possibility of never-ending profits. Dwayne also reflects American society’s struggle with mental illness, and after the stress of his wife’s suicide and his son’s homosexuality, he begins a slow break with reality. Dwayne’s insanity first manifests as excessive happiness and inappropriate singing, and he soon begins to hallucinate ducks directing traffic and asphalt parking lots that turn into trampolines. Dwayne is also inflicted with echolalia, or a compulsion to repeat the last word spoken to him, yet the citizens of Midland City still don’t seem to notice his suffering. After Dwayne accuses Francine Pefko, his secretary and mistress, of being “a whore” who is trying to extort a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise out of him, he grows concerned over his own behavior. “I’ve lost my way,” Dwayne says as he sets out to find a “brand new viewpoint on life.” His search brings him to the Arts Festival, where the “distinguished” artists are sure to have the inside track on truth and the meaning of life. There, he finds Kilgore Trout, a failed writer, and his novel, Now It Can Be Told, which ultimately turns Dwayne into a “homicidal maniac.” Kilgore’s novel focuses on the Man, the only living creature with free will in a fictional universe occupied by “fully automated machines.” In his fragile mental state, Dwayne mistakes Kilgore’s book for reality. If everybody in his life is a machine, programmed to behave this way or that, then Dwayne does not have to grapple with the deeper issues of mental health, suicide, or sexuality, which mirrors American society’s broader efforts to likewise avoid sensitive issues. After a stint in a mental institution, Dwayne is sued by his victims and “rendered destitute.” Through Dwayne Hoover, the novel argues the importance of recognizing the warning signs of mental illness and highlights the dangers of taking art too seriously and searching too deeply for meaning within it.

Dwayne Hoover Quotes in Breakfast of Champions

The Breakfast of Champions quotes below are all either spoken by Dwayne Hoover or refer to Dwayne Hoover. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dial Press edition of Breakfast of Champions published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The motto of Dwayne Hoover’s and Kilgore Trout’s nation was this, which meant in a language nobody spoke anymore, Out of Many, One: “E pluribus unum.”

The undippable flag was a beauty, and the anthem and the vacant motto might not have mattered much, if it weren’t for this: a lot of citizens were so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made. It might have comforted them some if their anthem and their motto had mentioned fairness or brotherhood or hope or happiness, had somehow welcomed them to the society and its real estate.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Kilgore Trout, Dwayne Hoover
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

It shook up Trout to realize that even he could bring evil into the world—in the form of bad ideas. And, after Dwayne was carted off to a lunatic asylum in a canvas camisole, Trout became a fanatic on the importance of ideas as causes and cures for diseases.

But nobody would listen to him. He was a dirty old man in the wilderness, crying out among the trees and underbrush, “Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease!”

Related Characters: Kilgore Trout (speaker), Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Dwayne Hoover
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 4 Quotes

Dwayne stayed in his vacant lot for a while. He played the radio. All the Midland City stations were asleep for the night, but Dwayne picked up a country music station in West Virginia, which offered him ten different kinds of flowering shrubs and five fruit trees for six dollars, C.O.D.

“Sounds good to me,” said Dwayne. He meant it. Almost all the messages which were sent and received in his country, even the telepathic ones, had to do with buying or selling some damn thing. They were like lullabies to Dwayne.

Related Characters: Dwayne Hoover (speaker), Kurt Vonnegut (speaker)
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Our names are so close,” said the young man, “it’s the good Lord telling us both what to do.”

Dwayne Hoover didn’t ask him what his name was, but the young man told him anyway, radiantly: “My name, sir, is Wayne Hoobler.”

All around Midland City, Hoobler was a common Nigger name.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Young Black Man / Wayne Hoobler (speaker), Dwayne Hoover
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 15 Quotes

It didn’t matter much what Dwayne said. It hadn’t mattered much for years. It didn’t matter much what most people in Midland City said out loud, except when they were talking about money or structures or travel or machinery—or other measurable things. Every person had a clearly defined part to play—as a black person, a female high school drop-out, a Pontiac dealer, a gynecologist, a gas-conversion burner installer. If a person stopped living up to expectations, because of bad chemicals or one thing or another, everybody went on imagining that the person was living up to expectations anyway.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Dwayne Hoover
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 18 Quotes

Dwayne was hoping that some of the distinguished visitors to the Arts Festival, who were all staying at the Inn, would come into the cocktail lounge. He wanted to talk to them, if he could, to discover whether they had truths about life which he had never heard before. Here is what he hoped new truths might do for him: enable him to laugh at his troubles, to go on living, and to keep out of the North Wing of the Midland County General Hospital, which was for lunatics.

Related Characters: Dwayne Hoover
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Breakfast of Champions LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Dwayne Hoover Character Timeline in Breakfast of Champions

The timeline below shows where the character Dwayne Hoover appears in Breakfast of Champions. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface
People and Machines Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
...of people as “huge, rubbery test tubes” with “chemical reactions seething inside.” When Vonnegut and Dwayne Hoover, one of the characters in this book, were young, they saw many people with... (full context)
Chapter 1
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
...he is wrong. By the time he dies, Kilgore will be revered. The other man, Dwayne Hoover, a Pontiac dealer, is “on the brink” of insanity. (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
“Listen:” Kilgore and Dwayne live in the United States of America, where “a lot of citizens are so ignored... (full context)
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
By the time Dwayne and Kilgore meet, America is “the richest and most powerful country on the planet.” Many... (full context)
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Dwayne and Kilgore’s America is “opposed to Communism” and doesn’t make citizens share if they don’t... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
Dwayne is “going insane,” mostly due to “a matter of chemicals.” His chemicals are out of... (full context)
People and Machines Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Dwayne will get his “bad ideas” from Kilgore. Kilgore believes himself to be “not only harmless... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Dwayne is a “widower” who lives alone in a fancy house in the wealthy part of... (full context)
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Kilgore has a parakeet named Bill, and like Dwayne, Kilgore spends most of his time talking to his pet. He tells Bill that the... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
In 1972, when Kilgore meets Dwayne, Kilgore is living in a “basement apartment in Cohoes, New York.” He is in the... (full context)
Chapter 4
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In the meantime, Dwayne is “getting crazier.” He hallucinates a large “duck directing traffic” in an intersection but tells... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
After Dwayne goes publicly crazy, people who know him are “furious with themselves” for ignoring his “obvious... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Francine works at Dwayne Hoover’s Exit Eleven Pontiac Village. The dealership is near the interstate, next to the new... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Harry LeSabre, Dwayne’s “white sales manager,” is the only person to notice Dwayne’s change in mental status, and... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
“Listen:” Harry tells Francine that Dwayne is “changing.” Harry can feel it. He tells Francine to go ask Vernon Garr, Dwayne’s... (full context)
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
Harry is “upset” with Dwayne because earlier that day he had gone into Dwayne’s office—as he always does, to make... (full context)
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
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“Harry,” Dwayne said, “why don’t you get a bunch of cotton waste from Vern Garr, soak it... (full context)
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Harry was shocked by Dwayne’s outburst. Harry is “generally acknowledged to be one of the most effective sales managers” in... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
That weekend, the “bad chemicals” in Dwayne’s brain wake him in the middle of the night. He goes to the bathroom where... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
No one hears the shots through Dwayne’s fancy, well-insulated home, and he walks outside to play basketball in his driveway and talk... (full context)
People and Machines Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
As Dwayne races down the road, he “slams into a guardrail,” spins a few times, “jumps a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Back in Midland City, Dwayne puts the Plymouth into drive. He drives past his Pontiac dealership to the new Holiday... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
As Dwayne looks down over Midland City from the roof of the Holiday Inn, he doesn’t recognize... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Dwayne comes down from the roof of the Holiday Inn and goes to the front desk... (full context)
Chapter 11
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At the Holiday Inn, Dwayne sleeps late and goes down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. He sits alone in... (full context)
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Dwayne thinks about Sugar Creek, a small river that flows through Midland City that floods every... (full context)
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Dwayne “dares to suppose that he is no longer mentally diseased” and walks out into the... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
As Dwayne moves towards the dealership “from dimple to dimple,” he sees a young black man polishing... (full context)
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“Good morning,” the young black man says to Dwayne. He tells Dwayne he has seen many of his ads and that he would love... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
Dwayne walks into his dealership and “the ground isn’t blooping underneath him anymore.” Now, however, he... (full context)
Chapter 13
Mental Health Theme Icon
After his unexpected encounter with Harry, Dwayne finally makes it to the safety of his office. “This is a very tough day,... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
Kyle and Lyle are Dwayne’s twin stepbrothers, and the three of them jointly own the Sacred Miracle Cave, a local... (full context)
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
...be up to Moby Dick in a week or two.” This makes perfect sense to Dwayne. A small stream naturally runs through the cave, and it has become polluted with industrial... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...North. Tourists come from miles around to see the cave, but the story is fake. Dwayne didn’t discover the cave until 1937, and even then, his stepfather had to blow it... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
The Sacred Miracle Cave sits on the property that Dwayne’s step-father came to own when he moved to Midland City. The property, known as Bluebird... (full context)
Chapter 14
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...his way to Midland City, he unknowingly passes through the part of West Virginia where Dwayne’s stepparents originally came from. Before coming to Midland City after the First World War, Dwayne’s... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Back at his Pontiac dealership, Dwayne finally remembers that it is Hawaiian Week. His mind is clearing, and the parking lot... (full context)
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Dwayne’s waitress at Burger Chef, Patty Keene, is a seventeen-year-old girl working to pay off her... (full context)
People and Machines Theme Icon
Dwayne isn’t sexually attracted to Patty, although he does appreciate that she is pretty. Patty is... (full context)
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Patty eyes Dwayne. He “can solve so many of her problems with the money and power he has,”... (full context)
People and Machines Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
Dwayne continues to repeat the last word of each of Patty’s sentences, but she doesn’t seem... (full context)
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Race and Racism Theme Icon
On the way back to the dealership, Dwayne passes a construction site where a crew of men are digging massive holes in Midland... (full context)
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At the dealership, Francine is hard at work. Dwayne goes into his office and calls her, even though she is sitting just outside the... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
...she says, “so I might as well do anything anybody says—in the service of mankind.” Dwayne and Francine take separate cars to the Shepherdstown, where they meet at the Quality Motor... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Francine and Dwayne talk about the local prison in Shepherdstown, and Francine marvels at how most of the... (full context)
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Francine is shocked. She doesn’t know what Dwayne is talking about. “Every woman is a whore,” Dwayne tells her, “and every whore has... (full context)
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In the meantime, Harry is at home crying as well. He is sure that Dwayne knows he is a “transvestite,” and he has gone home to cry in his bed.... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
“Fuck Dwayne Hoover,” Grace tells Harry, “and fuck Midland City. Let’s sell the God damn Xerox stock... (full context)
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As Francine cries, Dwayne begins to regret his outburst. “I’m so confused,” he says and asks Francine to hold... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
“I’ve lost my way,” Dwayne says to Francine. He wants to talk to someone about his feelings, but he has... (full context)
Chapter 16
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...his novel, Now It Can Be Told, which is the book that “will soon turn Dwayne into a homicidal maniac.” In the book, all creatures in the universe are “fully-programmed robots,”... (full context)
Chapter 17
Mental Health Theme Icon
Bunny Hoover, “Dwayne’s homosexual son,” is busy getting ready for work. He plays piano at the lounge of... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...been sent to military school when he was just ten years old, after he told Dwayne “that he wished he was a woman instead of a man.” Military schools are institutions... (full context)
Mental Health Theme Icon
...more medals, Celia would be so proud, and then she should would tell Bunny that Dwayne was “a monster.” Of course, Dwayne was not a monster, “it was all in her... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
Kilgore is still in the Galaxie moving closer to Midland City, and four miles away, Dwayne sits in the cocktail lounge of the Holiday Inn. Bunny sits playing the piano, but... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...Festival incognito,” Vonnegut writes, “to watch a confrontation between two human beings I have created: Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout.” The lenses of Vonnegut’s glasses are “silvered” and appear as “mirrors”... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
...walks by with a drink in her hand. She is about to serve it to Dwayne, whom she knows well. Bonnie and her husband have bought several Pontiacs from Dwayne over... (full context)
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Dwayne has come to the lounge hoping to find some “distinguished artists” to talk to. He... (full context)
Chapter 19
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...awarded several medals during the Second World War, “which was staged by robots so that Dwayne Hoover could give a free-willed reaction to such a holocaust.” The phone is ringing because... (full context)
Chapter 21
People and Machines Theme Icon
...It Can Be Told, and he looks anxiously around the lounge. Sitting in the bar, Dwayne, Kilgore, and Vonnegut form “an equilateral triangle about twelve feet,” and each of them is... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
As Dwayne sits alone in the lounge, his thoughts begin to wander. He remembers something his stepfather... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
One night, according to Dwayne’s stepfather, a black family failed to see the signs and attempted to spend the night... (full context)
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Capitalism and Consumerism Theme Icon
...laundry, Monday is a “blue” day. Of course, women do laundry whenever they want to—even Dwayne can remember his own stepmother doing the wash on Christmas Eve during the Depression—so the... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...cleaning and cooking and washing and ironing and tending children and dealing with filth.” When Dwayne was a child, his stepmother refused to do housework. The “white men wouldn’t do it... (full context)
Chapter 22
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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... (full context)
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...to explain beforehand about a high school jacket Kilgore will see at the hospital after Dwayne attacks him. (full context)
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Suddenly, Dwayne’s “bad chemicals” decide that it is time for him to discover “the secrets of life.”... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Dwayne continues reading the book. “You are surrounded by loving machines, hating machines, greedy machines, unselfish... (full context)
People and Machines Theme Icon
Mental Health Theme Icon
Dwayne finishes the entire book, “having wolfed down tens of thousands of words of such solipsistic... (full context)
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Rabo Karabekian and Beatrice Keedsler try to intervene, but Dwayne attacks them as well. “Never hit a woman, right?” Dwayne yells as he punches Beatrice... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Dwayne’s “rampage” takes him from the Holiday Inn to his Pontiac dealership, where he assaults Francine... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
“There you are,” Dwayne says to Wayne. Wayne is a “typical black robot,” and Dwayne begins to tell Wayne... (full context)
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Dwayne tells Wayne about his wife, Celia, and about Bunny being a homosexual. “White robots are... (full context)
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Dwayne begins talking again and tells Wayne all about “human slavery.” It is not only black... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Dwayne attacks so many people on his “rampage,” that a “special ambulance known as Martha” is... (full context)
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Dwayne boards the ambulance wrapped “tightly in canvas restraining sheets.” He is unaware of his surroundings... (full context)
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When Kilgore tried to stop Dwayne from beating Francine, Dwayne bit off Kilgore’s finger and spit it into Sugar Creek. “This... (full context)
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Dwayne didn’t actually sell Don a “lemon”—the neighborhood kids had poured maple syrup in the gas... (full context)
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
Aboard Martha, Dr. Ukwende tries to remove Dwayne’s shoes, but he has waded through Sugar Creek as well, and his socks and shoes... (full context)
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For a moment, Dwayne’s “awareness returns to Earth,” and he begins to talk lucidly. He tells Dr. Ukwende that... (full context)
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Dwayne never does open a health club. Instead, he is mercilessly sued by all the people... (full context)
Epilogue
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Fred T. Barry postpones the Festival on account of Dwayne’s outburst, but no one bothers to tell Kilgore. As he begins walking toward the arts... (full context)