Free «An Impression of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater» Essay
Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most famous American writers. Numerous solid scientific monographs and dissertations, mass critical articles and reviews are written about him and his works; journalists endlessly turned to him with a request for an interview.
The main paradox of Vonnegut’s artistic method is that in his novels, the most tragic moments of life are related to laughter in which the readers observe a deadly game of life, played by a man. The collision of the deep philosophical content with external carnival creates a unique style of the author.
Incessant grotesque, satire, irony, and paradoxes create the effect of a fail showing of illogic human actions and complete destruction of stereotypes. All these elements of style and the word games, which can be found in Vonnegut’s works, are impressive. In one interview Vonnegut said, “I hope that my ideas attract a lively dialogue, even if my sentences are simple” (Rentilly n.pag.).
The novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is the fifth and one of the most controversial Vonnegut’s works. Mr. Rosewater, the owner of the state, which he had inherited, opens a Rosewater Charity Foundation. He takes care of poor people, giving them money and paying much attention. He departs from secular life, supporting a charity and volunteering for firefighters clubs. His wife gets a nervous breakdown and is going to divorce him; they have no children. Sylvia is a good and understanding woman, but she cannot stand the husband’s strangeness.
Rosewater Foundation has one feature, namely a madman has no right to lead it. A young lawyer Norman Mushari tries to prove that Mr. Rosewater is insane. He wants to convey Rosewater Foundation to distant relatives, receiving his own interest.
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When Rosewater cannot withstand the tension and surrenders, he becomes indifferent to all those people to whom he dedicated his whole life. A year later, Rosewater awakes in a psychiatric hospital and learns that he behaved all the time adequately so it is likely that he will be considered as a normal at tomorrow’s trial.
Eliot’s father Lister Rosewater, a career senator, is depicted in stark contrast to the protagonist. He hates the poor, considering them as lazy loafers and worthless people. That is why they always argue; Eliot says, “You’re the man who stands on a street corner with a roll of toilet paper, and written on each square are the words, ‘I love you.’” He adds: “… each passer-by, no matter who, gets a square all his or her own. I don’t want my square of toilet paper” (Vonnegut n.pag.). Eliot Rosewater is sincere and wants to see this feature in others.
There is practically no fiction; however, the book is full of irony. It describes the society of America in 70s, but it is still ill with the same diseases at the beginning of XXI century. Consumer society, the power of money and its quasi-divine status are the core problems in the book as well as in the contemporary society. Vonnegut believes that society is divided into two parts by a cash flow. Thus there are minorities, who bathe in wealth and are able to turn all the laws of the country in order to multiply their wealth, and majorities, who can never acquire wealth and live simple life. These people who are satisfied with simple things and entertainments are exploited by the first group, being, in fact, the source of their wealth.
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The novel raises a number of important psychological and social issues, and the depth of the material lies in the rich details of reality, some philosophical observations, irony as well as inner light, inherent to Vonnegut. The protagonist is changing from the beginning to the end of the novel and passes a long way inside.
The author invites the readers to an eccentric millionaire’s fund who indulges the passion for philanthropy. The glib lawyer hired by his relatives is trying to prove that Eliot is mad. Oddly enough, psychiatrists are sure that this man is totally healthy. It should be noted that each proposal of the book is full of love for people, all these drunk, dirty, wrong and petty people. Eliot Rosewater unsuccessfully tried to stir the town residents. However, the attempt to infuse life into the city with the help of the vast capital failed. The townsfolk showed no desire to change physically and emotionally.
Haunted by guilt for his actions during the war, Eliot Rosewater tries his best to help the people in a small town to live better, but nobody understands his altruism.
After all, the novel is not so much about the finances and management of the funds as about hypocrisy and corruption of modern society as well as the decline of morality while human virtues are not esteemed.
Rosewater is a rich man who lives in a fantasy world. Rosewater does not know the value of money, they are empty for him. People see that this inappropriate spreading of money is a bad lesson. A man who thinks about Tralfamadore, who admires the ski-fi writer Kilgore Trout and is afraid of the fire in Dresden, who fancies himself a fireman and puts firefighters above all and organizes more voluntary fire brigades, cannot be adequate. At least it is something wrong with his internal understanding of the world. Rosewater’s illusions are the illusions of Kurt Vonnegut. One cannot refuse the persistent belief in the continuity of these two natures.