Kurt Vonnegut, JR’s Theme

January 7, 2017 General Studies

Kurt Vonnegut, JR’s Unshackled Mind.

Throughout the given Kurt Vonnegut stories, there has been a common, underlying theme. This theme can be found in such short stories as “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” “The Euphio Question,” and “Harrison Bergeron.” In extremes of both spectrums, Vonnegut’s theme is that of the unshackled mind. Through Vonnegut’s writing, it is obvious that he cares heavily for freedom of choice. Each short story comes from a different angle of the unshackled mind but all result in the same message concerning the mind. It is through a step-by-step examination of the short stories that one can easily see the theme of the unshackled mind. .

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In “The Euphio Question,” Vonnegut shows what happens when the mind is shackled, coupled with the effects of greed. When a hissing sound from space was amplified, the whole town became like zombies. “The whole town went nuts For no reason at all, all the cars pulled up to the curb like there was a hook and ladder going by. Says here people shut up in the middle of sentences and stayed that way for five minutes. Hundreds wandered around in the cold in their shirt-sleeves, grinning like toothpaste ads.”(pg. 175)This sound, when amplified at the masses, caused full shackling of the mind, all free will gone, and just an extreme docile view of life. At first the characters don’t see the mind altering as mind control or shackling of free will, they see it as just helping others achieve happiness. “Is happiness bad?” Lew interrupted. No, I admitted.” (pg 176) From this moment in the story on, the main protagonists begin to think of ways of turning this device into a cash crop. They realize that once the consumers mind is shackled, and void of free will, that they will agree with anything such as the sale of a house. When the protagonists do a test of the “Bockmans Euphoria,” everyone becomes happy and extremely passive, not caring what’s going on around them no matter what.


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