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Research Term Paper - the Life of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Essay title: Research Term Paper - the Life of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The Life of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a famous American author “known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction” (Kurt Vonnegut). Although Kurt Vonnegut is most widely known as a science fiction writer, what if his readers knew that he didn’t consider himself that at all? He once said he “learned from the reviewer” that he was a science fiction writer. Regardless of what Kurt Vonnegut considers himself, he is one of the most sought-after science fiction writers in history. Plagued by the Great Depression, World War II, the suicide of his mother, and a long list of other dramatic events, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. lead a difficult life. Even though these events sound terrible, it is not unreasonable to call them the core of his literary success.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. lived a prosperous life until the time when the Great Depression struck the United States. Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Vonnegut was born into a family with two older siblings; he had a brother, Bernard Vonnegut, and a sister, Alice Vonnegut (Rider). In his early years, Vonnegut and his family lived well. “Vonnegut’s early life was extremely privileged” (Rider). Although, this all took a drastic turn when the Great Depression struck in the late 1920s. Kurt Vonnegut’s father especially took a hit. His father, Kurt Vonnegut Sr., “was a well-to-do architect whose fortunes, job opportunities, and mental health fell off drastically with the Great Depression” ("Kurt Vonnegut"). Although the depression did not affect Vonnegut’s mother as much as it did his father, it was tough for her as well. Kurt Vonnegut’s mother, Edith Lieber Vonnegut, was a daughter of a wealthy local family in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rider). Therefore, she was not as well conditioned for the minimal lifestyle she was forced to experience. As a child, Vonnegut took example from his Uncle Alex, who taught him to enjoy the finer, simpler things in life; this went on to influence the rest of his writing career. Kurt Vonnegut and his family lived a very average and simple life up to the point the Great Depression struck; from then on, life became hard, and this struggle built the strong foundation for Kurt Vonnegut’s prosperous writing career.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had a rough and rather difficult middle life. Vonnegut attended Shortridge High School in 1936; here, he was an editor for the school’s newspaper, The Daily Echo. This was fundamentally where Vonnegut developed his love and passion for writing. After Kurt Vonnegut graduated high school, he went on to attend Cornell University. Here, he studied biology and chemistry, both of which were stressed by his father. Kurt Vonnegut attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943. Unfortunately, Vonnegut “left Cornell, and never graduated” (Bleiler). After leaving Cornell, he enlisted in the US Army. Vonnegut served in the US Army from 1943 to 1945. He served as an advanced scout in the US 106th Infantry Division in World War II (Rider). It was here that he was captured by the Germans and forced to work in the underground meatpacking house known as Slaughterhouse Five. This horrendous experience went on to influence one of Vonnegut’s most popular literary works, Slaughterhouse-Five. Although his experience in the war was an awful one, he was proud to have served his country; “horrifying as his WWII experience was, Vonnegut feels proud to have served” ("Kurt Vonnegut"). On top of war, Vonnegut had many other experiences that influenced his writing career; these include the suicide of his mother in 1944, and the death of his sister in 1958. While serving in the war was a rough experience, this and several other events were the beginning of Kurt Vonnegut’s successful writing career.

As an adult, Kurt Vonnegut’s life improved, and this was when he really moved up in the world of American literature. Throughout his life, Vonnegut had various careers. In 1947, he began to work for General Electric (GE) as a publicist (Kurt Vonnegut). This was urged by his brother who also worked at GE as a scientist. Kurt Vonnegut claims to have enjoyed his job at GE. Regardless, in 1951, Vonnegut left GE in order to devote all his time to writing (Zworykin 26). Kurt Vonnegut spent most of the next couple decades writing books such as Player Piano, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five; although in 1970, he took a job teaching creative writing at Harvard University. Aside from the writing Kurt Vonnegut has done over his lifetime, he has also spent much of his time creating graphical art; most of these illustrations were influenced by his own novels. Throughout Vonnegut’s lifetime, he has been married to two wives; Jane Marie Cox, and Jill Krementz (“Kurt Vonnegut”). Jane Cox was Vonnegut’s “childhood sweetheart”, although they separated in 1970; this was followed

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