Friday, April 25, 2014

Telling all undercuts Dwayne's drama

For all of the speed and shock value that Vonnegut's bullet point style can generate it has one major failing. Since most of what Vonnegut does is tell, anything emotional falls flat.

In the scene where Dwayne is freaking out at Francine about her idea to open up a KFC near the correctional institute, we're not really shown any of what Dwayne does. Instead we're told.

The few bits of imagery we are given (like Dwayne's appearing coiled like a rattlesnake) are stripped of their power as soon as their illustration appears.

Scenes of emotion that are more effective, though, despite Vonnegut's "tell-all" style, are those with Trout. Mostly because the things that Trout goes through are more abstract and thus refuse to be drawn.

With nothing to trivialize or poke fun at the drama occurring around them, his emotions are able to breathe and to be empathized with. Though that we can empathize more easily with Kilgore Trout than with Dwayne Hoover makes sense, since Trout is the story's prime mover and more or less main character.

Dwayne on the other hand, is a caricature from his introduction onwards. His big house, his dead wife, his homosexual son, his relationship with his dog, and his commercial empire all work together to create a character who's about as much of a caricature of middle class white success as you can get. As such, I think it's harder to really empathize with him. Though were we shown more, I'm not sure that would be necessary for his more dramatic scenes.

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