Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

by

Kurt Vonnegut

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Mirrors Symbol Icon

Vonnegut repeatedly mentions mirrors in Breakfast of Champions, which represent a portal to another universe. Kilgore Trout refers to mirrors as “leaks” and likes to pretend that they are “holes between two universes,” which  he often warns young children not to get to close to. Kilgore tells people that in Bermuda, where he comes from, the expression “I have to take a leak” means that one is “about to steal a mirror.” Kilgore tells this story to a truck driver, and a week later the man tells his wife, who then proceeds to tell all her friends. Kilgore’s story about taking a leak in Bermuda reflects his theory that ideas, good or bad, will eventually spread and permeate society.

Kilgore’s playful belief that mirrors represent holes between universes is also reflected throughout much of the book. Sugar Creek, the polluted stream that flows through the flatlands of Midland City, occasionally floods, and when it does, it “forms a vast mirror in which children might safely play.” In this instance, the mirror formed on the surface of Sugar Creek is a hole into another universe where the environment isn’t so badly polluted that dead fish float on the surface of streams and plastic waste hardens on the skin of anyone who dares to wade in the water.

Mirrors also cover the walls and surfaces in the lobby of the Holiday Inn when Kilgore first arrives. These “leaks” separate the cultured and sophisticated world of the Arts Festival and Kilgore’s blue-collar life as a storm window installer. Lastly, when Vonnegut himself goes to the Holiday Inn to watch the meeting between Kilgore and Dwayne Hoover, his own mirrored sunglasses are “leaks” that allow him to see out into the universe of his literary creation, but when his characters look at him, all they see is their own reflection.  

Mirrors Quotes in Breakfast of Champions

The Breakfast of Champions quotes below all refer to the symbol of Mirrors. 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 18 Quotes

There in the cocktail lounge, peering out through my leaks at a world of my own invention, I mouthed this word: schizophrenia.

The sound and appearance of the word had fascinated me for many years. It sounded and looked to me like a human being sneezing in a blizzard of soapflakes.

I did not and do not know for certain that I have that disease. This much I knew and know: I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker)
Related Symbols: Mirrors
Page Number: 198-199
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Mirrors Symbol Timeline in Breakfast of Champions

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mirrors appears in Breakfast of Champions. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Kilgore is in the habit of calling mirrors “leaks.” He pretends that mirrors are “holes between two universes,” and he warns small children... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Destruction of the Planet Theme Icon
...that flooding is rare, but occasionally the creek “brims over silently” and “forms a vast mirror in which children might safely play.” Dwayne silently whispers, “Sugar Creek” and finishes his breakfast. (full context)
Chapter 18
Art, Subjectivity, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout.” The lenses of Vonnegut’s glasses are “silvered” and appear as “mirrors” to anyone looking at him. “Where other people in the cocktail lounge have eyes,” Vonnegut... (full context)