.. ad to quit reproducing so much, and the people who understood morals said that society would collapse if people used sex for nothing but pleasure This story is not nearly as pessimistic as some of Vonnegut’s other novels, however it isn’t optimistic either. The story makes the government and the scientific community the villains of the story for taking away sex. It also makes Billy the Poet a hero for rebelling against the government edict and for spreading his philosophy of pleasure through sexual intercourse. One thing that should be pointed out about this story is that it was originally written for Playboy magazine. One of the ironies of the story was after Billy raped the suicide hostess and removed her ethical birth control pills.
He leaves her with a poem and a bottle of regular birth control pills. The poem was How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways which is ironic because Billy has shown no love for the suicide hostess, only a little bit of pleasure for converting her to a Nothinghead. However the poem is appropriate because the suicide hostess’ feeling about sex were very like those of most Victorian ladies. The effect of the ethical birth control pills is also much like the effects that the author of the poem, Elisabeth Browning, felt after falling off of her horse. The theme of this story is not in the altruistic efforts of Billy the Poet, but rather, things that seem good really aren’t necessarily good.
The next story was All the King’s Horses. This story is the product of the Cold War of the early 1950’s when Americans were becoming more and more suspicious of the Soviet Union and of China. The Sort describes a battle between a group of Americans, led by Colonel Kelley, and Pi Ying, a Chinese guerilla leader. The Americans were the victims of a plane crash in China. Ying brings Kelley, his wife, his 2 sons, and twelve American soldiers to a hideout where he offers the Colonel one chance to save all their lives. The chance is that he must uses the Americans as chess pieces in a game against Pi Ying while a Russian advisor observes. If Kelley wins the Americans will go free.
Ying is a rather evil bloodthirsty character and the Russian is eager for a war between the United States and Russia as soon as the time is right. Ying is assassinated by his mistress, and then the Russian takes over, but Kelley has already won. The Russian lets the Americans go, and says that ultimately there will be a war between them, but later. This story now seems very dated, however it reflects accurately the American sentiment during the early Cold War period. The theme of the story seems to be in the choices that people make.
People make good decisions and people make bad decisions. Those that make good decisions come out well in the end. The story Who am I this time? is an example of Vonnegut’s stories that show a concern about role playing, and people being who they are, and aren’t. The main character, a very shy hardware clerk only comes alive when he is in a role in the local theatre group. The director in the story decides to do the play A Streetcar Named Desire.
The hardware clerk, Harry becomes Marlin Brando in the play and a young girl named Helene who plays Stella in the play falls in love with him. Because harry was left on the doorstep of a church as a baby he has no concept of self, and Helene was always employed moving from place to place, so she never developed a personality of her own. Both of them therefore yearn for an environment in which they can blend in and feel that they have an identity. They marry, and their marriage only works because they are constantly reading lines of couples from various plays. The story More Stately Mansions was about a woman who from the beginning of the story is rather odd and in the end seems completely psychotic.
The theme of the story is that the dream is always more precious than the reality. A couple moves into a suburban home and discovers that their neighbor Grace has an obsession with home decorating. Grace invites them over for a couple drinks and they discover that Grace’s home is rather dull, dirty, and everything is falling apart. Grace falls sick and while she is in the hospital her husband inherits enough money that he can do all of her decorating that she’d been dreaming about over the years. When she came home from the hospital however the only thing that she notices is the bouquet of roses that her husband bought her.
She seems to think that this was the way that she left her house, and that it was always perfect and beautiful. She sits on the couch, looking rather depressed and her husband announces that a new Home Beautiful has come in the mail, to which she replies read one and you’ve read them all when she used to be obsessed with the magazines. The Foster Portfolio is one of the most pessimistic of any of the stories. IT is one of his many stories about the relationships between fathers and sons. Herbert Foster works as a bookkeeper to support his wife and child.
He has inherited almost a million-dollar stock portfolio, but he feels that the money is tainted because it came from his father, a man who abandoned wife and child to devote his life to playing music and to drinking gin and he won’t touch it. Three nights a week Herbert goes out to a cheap bar because he had the respectability his mother had hammered into him. But just as priceless as that was an income not quite big enough to go around. It left him no alternative but- in the holy names of wife, child and home- to play piano in a dive, and breathe smoke, and drink gin, to be Firehouse Harris, his father’s son, three nights out of seven. Foster’s split personality causes him to find it necessary to create roles that help him cope with what seem unbearable problems.
The story that gives this book the biggest merit is The Kid Nobody Could Handle. The music teacher, Helmholtz is appalled to find that Jim Donnini, a juvenile delinquent from the streets of Chicago, has been vandalizing Lincoln High School. Filled with compassion and desperation Helmholtz offers him his most prized possession, John Philip Sousa’a trumpet. When the boy initially shows no interest, Helmholtz hammers the instrument against a coat tree and mutter that Life is no damn good ; and only then does Donnini show any interest in Helmholtz. With the start of a new school semester, Jim Donnini takes the last seat of the worst trumpet section of the C band.
As Helmholtz tells him and the rest of the band Our aim is to make the world more beautiful than it was when we came into it Love yourselfand make your instrument sing about it Vonnegut is saying in this story that without a sense of self worth it is impossible for anyone to achieve anything. The entire book Welcome to the Monkey House was banned only a few times, for it isn’t taught in very many schools. However the main example of it being banned was in Alabama, where a teacher was fired for teaching it because the book promoted the killing off of the elderly, and free sex. The teacher later sued, and won. These two things, the killing off of the elderly, and free sex were both in the actual story welcome to the Monkey House. The story did promote free sex, but only normal amounts of sex.
The idea was that the pills were wrong, not that people now should have more sex. As for the killing off of the elderly, the idea was for the killing off of anyone that wanted to die because there was a large population problem going on. There were also many good reasons for the book being taught. The book has many morals taught in it and just about every story has a positive message in it. The positive message in All the Kings Horses was about making good choices and being bold in life, the message in The Kid Nobody Could Handle was about believing in yourself. There was even a positive message in More Stately Mansions that dreams are sometimes better than reality, and that the dreamer is not necessarily bad.
The positive message in Welcome to the Monkey House is that sometimes the big guy is wrong, and change can be brought about by one small person, along with that we shouldn’t as a society be afraid of sex. In most cases censorship indeed seems to be only a violation of peoples right to free speech. It is, in the words of the Disinformation website an easy way for prudish control freaks to get their jollies. However, there are cases in which censorship is right. For children, there is a reason for censorship, but adults can decide whether or not they want to read books like Welcome to the Monkey House.