Monday, March 31, 2014

Discussion Leader chapter 12-14 book 2

1) In chapter one we learn a lot more about Mary Hepburn, additionally there are some flashbacks involving Mary's past. Who is she, and what is the importance of her character? Additionally why was the author writing about Marys flashbacks, what does it symbolize?

2) Why was Roy looking for ivory-billed woodpeckers? and where was he searching?

3) What does James and Mary's love symbolize? It it realley true love, or do you think there may be a chance James is mentally unstable or confused?

connector- chapters 12-14 book II

On pages 293-295 in this section, Trout talks about the war, and how he had dealt, mentally, with those things. When feeling no remorse, he sought asylum in Sweden.
   This section made me think of how sometimes we hear on the news about how a team of soldiers in another country killed  a large group of innocent people. Trout talks about how he was supposed to keep a secret, that his platoon had killed 59 women, and it made me think about how I've heard (supposedly) about that happening among our army as well.

Passage Discussion: Ch. 12-14

"Do people still know that they are going to die sooner or later? No. Fortunately, in my humble opinion, they have forgotten that?" (Ch. 14)

The idea of not knowing of one's eventual demise is extremely intriguing to me. How different do you think we would live our lives if we were unaware that consciousness would not go on forever? Do you think anything would change? Would we live life more adventurously or humbly? Consider these questions as if nothing else about the human condition is altered: we are the exact same except lacking in the knowledge of our mortality. How would that impact individuals or societies, if at all?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Summary: Chapters 12-14

     In the final chapters of Galapagos, Leon Trout ponders how Mary and Captain von Kleist's relationship might have been rekindled, reveals that that is to become of the story's remaining protagonists and recounts the manner in which he came to Sweden following his service in the Vietnam War.
     In the story's twelfth chapter, Trout discloses the names of the six Kanka-bono women: Sinka, Lor, Lira, Dirno, Nanno and Keel. It is later in this chapter that an aged Mary Hepburn, eighty years old for the sake of minutiae, visits the Captain, who is now afflicted by Alzheimer's disease and whom Akiko has nursed for the last several years.
     Upon Akiko's departure to see to her four year old son, the derailed Captain seizes Mandarax from Mary's old hands and proceeds to chuck it onto the slope of the island's shoal. In Mary's effort to retrieve her prized possession, she and Mandarax are eaten by a great white shark.
     In his months subsequent the Vietnam War, Trout was sent to Bangkok, Thailand for "Rest and Recreation", where he came upon a private physician, a fan of his father's science-fiction, much to Leon's dismay, who urged him to seek treatment for his syphilis in Sweden.

Late: Passage Discussion: Chapters 5-11 (Book Two)

1.     "Mary could make Akiko laugh about the ridiculous love affair, if you could call it that, she had had with a widower named Robert Wojciehowitz..He drove up to her house while she was mowing the lawn. He made her shut off the mower, and then he blurted out a marriage proposal..Mary would describe his car to Akiko, and make Akiko laugh about it.." (Pg. 240, Lines 1-20)

2.     "He said snarlingly, "I am not a man. I am simply not a man. I will of course never bother you again. I will never bother any woman ever again." (Pg. 242, Lines 25-27)

      It was much to my surprise to read of Mary Hepburn's seemingly callous behavior toward her coworker, Robert Wojciehowitz. Mary was likely to have been overwrought after the death of her husband, though her loss does not serve to justify her lack of empathy in her dealings with Mr. Wojciehowitz. I feel that we've an obligation to juxtapose Mary's interactions with Wojciehowitz, a man who was deeply afflicted by her rejection, as is illustrated especially well in the second excerpt, with her compassion for James Wait, or 'Willard Fleming', a nefarious charlatan.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Word Master: chapters 12-14 book 2 (the end)

Guten morgen...Wie geht's es Ihnen: German for "Good morning, how are you?"

mootsubject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.

enumerated: mention (a number of things) one by one

shoal: linear landform completely within or extending into a body of water

lugubriously: looking or sounding sad and dismal

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Summary: Chapters 5-11 Book Two

The characters are still sailing in open ocean on the Bahia de Darwin. After persistently asking, Mary Hepburn agrees to marry "Willard Flemming"right there on the ship. Flemming dies shortly after, and the Kanka-bono girls kill and eat Kazakh the dog. In chapter 7, the narrator, Leon Trout, sees the blue tunnel to the Afterlife and has a conversation with his dad. Leon decides to stay on Earth as a ghost for another one million years. 
The ship finally finds the island of Santa Rosalia in a Galapagos archipelago. The characters find plenty of iguanas, boobies, and crabs to eat, but when they went to leave and sail back to South America, they found that the engines would not start. Much time passes by, and Mary Hepburn's curiosity leads her to artificially inseminate the young Kanko-bono women with the Captain's sperm. All of the women become pregnant without the knowledge of the Captain. In chapter 11, the Captain finally finds out that the Kanka-bonos are pregnant with his children. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Connector: Chapters 36-4 (Book Two)

     In the fourth chapter of Book Two: And the Thing Became, Leon Trout weighs the casualties of war with regard to depopulation. Trout recounts, "Even at the end of protracted wars, there still seemed to be plenty of people around. Babies were always so plentiful that serious efforts to reduce the population by means of violence were doomed to failure" (Pg. 233). This sentiment carries the reader toward an idea that most morally sound persons would likely deem unpalatable, that that the great sum of lives claimed to war is relatively insignificant within the context of global population. This portion of the story directs my thoughts, specifically, toward Holocaust denial. There are a great many persons who assert that the Holocaust never took place and thereupon deny the deaths of approximately six million Jews, a figure which they often christen 'exaggerated' and 'unfeasible'. It remains rather jarring to me that because our wars have yet to leave us in a lowly state of population, one that resembles the setting of Mad Max (1979) and features small nomadic groups, there remain those who challenge the plausibility of casualties of the Holocaust's magnitude.

Additional information:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Discussion Leader: Ch. 36- Book 2 Ch. 4

1. What do you think is the purpose of the Mary/Roy flashback? What does it give to the reader?

2. "It was humanity's ability to heal so quickly, by means of babies, which encouraged so many people to think of explosions as show business, as highly theatrical forms of self-expression, and little more." What do you think of this quote? Do you agree? What are the dangers of not truly evaluating consequences, and how is today's society affected?

3. Based on everything our narrator has said so far, why do you think he has opted to be a ghost rather than slip into the afterlife? What's holding him back? Why do you think he's telling this story?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Passages: ch 36-42

And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around on a beach, and one of them farts, everybody else laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago." (Pg. 223, L. 14-19)

          I found this excerpt a little humorous, and I liked the way Vonnegut maintains this positive human ability in his "smaller brained" humans. I did not imagine the new human race to hold on to a human attribute like laughter and a sense of humor, so I thought this passage was interesting.

2) "Mainly, though it was an ineffectual assault on the very bottom of the food chain, the billions upon billions of microorganisms who...comprised the muck of the marsh. The explosion didn't bother them much, since they weren't all that sensitive to sudden starts and stops. They could have never have committed suicide in the manner as *Siegfried von Kleist...with a sudden stop." (Pg. 234, L. 4-12)

          This passage caught my attention mainly because of the last line. It is an interesting thought that lower organisms would not and could not commit suicide. It is in the nature of all living things to survive at all costs, and it is fascinating that humans can have the ability to overcome this deeply innate wiring. Do you believe the idea of suicide could have existed in early humans, or was an idea that developed as societies grew larger and people were under "unnatural" stresses?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Summarizer Chapters 29-35

   In these chapters, things get pretty interesting. Mary Hepburn tries to kills herself via suffocation, only to stop because of a hallucination of turtles stuck on their back. We discover that soon enough, a disease will cause the eggs in women's bodies to die, with exception to those who are on Galapagos. Close to death, Mary decides to take the bag off of her head and heads down to the bar, where James Wait is feeding the orphan children. Here we learn that James Wait is not only a manipulator of women, but also a murderer, and we are told the story of the murder he committed.
   Siegfried vin Kleist is beginning to become more insane because of the disease he has, Huntington's chorea, and Mary and James do not know that MacIntosh and Zenji have been shot, yet. Siegfried gives Wait the Mandarax. While Wait and Mary talk down in the bar, Wait begins to work his man-whore powers on Mary, and we learn that both he and Siegfried are soon going to die.
   Everyone from the hotel pile into a bus headed for the airport, and the six little cute Kanka-bono girls eat Kazakh, Selena MacIntosh's dog. The bus ride is dangerous and scary, and everyone on the bus is freaking out and trying to protect one another- even though Siegfried is obviously not fit to be driving or even really functioning with anyone, he decides to take this opportunity to drive anyways.
   People would have evolved differently if all of the celebrities had stayed on the cruise, and lots of lobsters have evolved just like humans and live in society just like them (according to a story made up by Adolf). Humans someday will have beaks, flippers, and fur. Yay.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Passages ch 29-35

Ch. 31 page 188
"How people used to talk and talk back then! Everybody was going "blah-blah-blah," all day long. Some of them would even do it in there sleep. My father used to blather in his sleep a lot especially after mother walked pout on us. I would be sleeping on the couch and it would be the middle of the night...-and i would hear thim going "blah-blah-blah," in the bedroom" 


Ch. 32 page 197
"It was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven we are all going direct the other way". _ Charles Dickens (1812-1870) 

1. things to think about~
What do you think about this passage, why might it be in the book and what does this mean?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chapters 29-35: Discussion Leader

1. With regard to James Wait's charity toward the Kanka-bono girls, Vonnegut briefly ponders the validity of kindnesses that are easy to perform. This turned my thoughts toward some once fiscally liberal celebrities, Dennis Miller for instance, who became less charitable after having accrued considerable wealth. Do you believe that great fortune allows us to become more altruistic or are we likelier to succumb to greed? How do you sincerely imagine you might behave, were you to acquire a great sum of money tomorrow?

2. Do you attribute the murder of Prince Richard of Croatia-Slavonia entirely to Wait's absent-mindedness?

3. How might Siegfried von Kleist have been acquainted with Leon Trout, our recently unveiled narrator?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chapters 22-28: Passage Discussion

1.     "Too late, the surviving inhabitants of such a nation would crawl from the ruins of their own creation and realize that, throughout all their self-imposed agony, there had been absolutely nobody at the top who had understood how things really worked, what it was all about, what was really going on." (Pg.140, L.20-26)

     I wanted to share this excerpt, as it had left me a bit taken aback upon first glance. In this story, which features such frequent mention of 'big-brains' is a sentiment that, in essence, asserts these 'big-brained' to have been entirely unknowing. I believe this to be the heart of Vonnegut's story. This short passage is, in my opinion, of the greatest profundity of all those that we've read thus far in Galapagos.

2.    "Selena MacIntosh would never know for certain that her father was dead until she was reunited with him at the far end of the blue tunnel into the Afterlife. All she could be sure of was that he had departed her room at the El Dorado, and exchanged some words with Zenji Hiroguchi out in the corridor. Then the two went down together in the elevator. After that, she would never receive news about either one of them." (Pg. 147, L.1-9)

     This excerpt, like any other in Galapagos, serves to illustrate Vonnegut's 8 Basic's of Creative Writing well, specifically, his fourth decree that "Every sentence must do one of two things--reveal character or advance the action". In eschewing lengthy setting descriptions, Vonnegut allows himself to set focus upon the place of his characters within the realm of the human condition.

 8 Basic's of Creative Writing


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Discussion Leader: 22-28

1. What were your feelings about how many people think that the Blue-Footed Boobie's mating dance is religious? How do you feel about the way that Vonnegut lightly hints religiously at things throughout the story but doesn't seem to really have a specific point he's making regarding religion?

2. Now that the narrator is starting to show a little more of his role and background in this book, do you have any further idea on who he might be and why he's valid to the story (besides, of course, telling it)?

3. What are your feelings about how much detail Vonnegut has begun going into about each character, and do you feel that this detail about their backgrounds and how they got on the "Nature Cruise of the Century" is valid or important to the story?


Monday, March 3, 2014


             Things start off a bit touchy because we find out that Mrs.Onassis not going on the nature cruise.It also talks about the loss of innocence and how starting off at a very young age in our society its lost. Getting deeper into the idea of how us humans have the habit of needing something to believe in(often times religion). We learn more about Captain Adolf von Kleist, going into explanation about his white and gold uniform.He talks about meteorites, he gave quite the little lecture on them. He thinks a meteorite will one day be mistaken for a missile and start world war 3. The Captain went straight from the airport to his ship, he didn't even stop to go see his brother. Then is gets into how one of our human defects is the law of natural selection, in our society everyone gets a chance at life, weak or strong, fat or skinny. The captain went on two shows The tonight show & Good morning America. He is often referred to as the "big brain". Then he made a huge mess of things, because he was talking to a woman that knew a little bit more about islands and mechanicary.Vonnegut reveals that Bobby King is officially out of our storyline now, and will not appear again. Then it goes into loss of opportunity and how we wish we had taken advantage of certain situations in our life. How we need to be more adventurous and aware, specifically referring to Selena this time. Then goes into the incident of San Mateo. Talking about all the corruption that fueled the Sam Mateo making it possible and a bit mysterious. Both the captain and his brother have homes in the chilly mists above Quito witch they both would love to never see again. Then goes into how sometimes a little neglect can breed good news just as easily, getting back into the idea of explosives and world war 3.

Ch. 22-28 Word Master

Potching: Thrusting/throwing

Sucres: The currency of Ecuador until 2000

These chapters didn't really employ many unfamiliar words. I figured sucres were a type of currency, but I was interested to see if they were still used.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chapters 22-28: Connector

In chapter 27, the narrator states that the six Kanka-bono orphan girls' parents were killed by insecticides sprayed from the air in the Ecuadorian rainforest. My initial connection to this information was the excessive use of pesticides in the modern world, especially in fertile, under-regulated regions in South America. Synthetic pesticides are toxic to humans, resulting in birth defects and even death. It is notable that 99% of pesticide related deaths occur in developing countries, such as Ecuador where our story takes place.

Also, I recalled that Vonnegut was vehemently against the Vietnam War. The United States used copious amounts of Agent Orange, a highly concentrated herbicide meant to defoliate the Vietnam rainforest. Agent Orange is a lethal chemical substance not only for the environment, but for humans as well. The Vietnam Red Cross has recorded roughly 4.8 million deaths and over 400,000 children born with birth defects due to Agent Orange exposure. When Galapagos was published in 1985, the citizens of Vietnam were still coping with the effects of the war, especially the damage done by Agent Orange.
Vonnegut seems to have added this instance of insecticide-related death as homage to the similar cases in Vietnam.

For more information and statistics:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Juliana Miller Connector

Vonnegut reveals how Selena, MacIntosh's blind daughter, and Hisako do eventually commit suicide in a pact. In a way this connects to the story of Romeo and Juliet, two young people acting out of impulse believe and thinking that this may in fact be the best way out. This story is famous for the suicide plot scene so I took a deeper look in order to connect it to our story Galapagos. 

The term "expire the term of a despised life."is used in this article to help explain addicted love and teen suicide and how it all correlates together. In Galopogos Selena and Hisake decide to make a pact to kill themselves, maybe if someone knew the situation or about the pact this whole situation could definitely be prevented. I got the term from this article from the website:

 To learn more about young suicides I did some research as to why they might have plotted this suicide. This is one of the websites I went to for research:
Connecting real life situations with one in a book does help the understanding of the situations. 

Chapters 15-21: Word Master

1. anthropomorphic (pg.106)- attributing human likeness or characteristics to an inhuman being or object

2. cordon sanitaire (pg.88)- a barrier to prevent the spread of a disease

3. edentate (pg.80)- without teeth

4. fiduciary (pg.73)- a person to whom something is temporarily entrusted; a trustee

5. sinuous (pg.106)- characterized by twists and turns; winding

I chose these words, because I was somewhat uncertain as to their meanings.


Ch. 15-21 Summary

As the "Nature Cruise of the Century" continues, we become exposed to new characters and information that give us a better picture of what has happened and what is to come. In chapters 15-21 we gain greater insight into the characters of Andrew MacIntosh, Jesus Ortiz, the van Kleist brothers, and Bobby King. We learn that the soon-to-be-deceased Andrew MacIntosh made a deal with the struggling Ecuador for 50 million dollars in exchange for land under the names of himself, his daughter Selena, and Zenji and Hisako Hiroguchi, and that American dollars are still completely valid. Vonnegut reveals to us that Selena, MacIntosh's blind daughter, and Hisako eventually kill themselves in a suicide pact.
     From an evolutionary standpoint, over the million years since the story begins, humans' brains have diminished; however, their senses have not. They can function underwater better, and rely more on instinct than on reason. The human life span has diminished by 30 years, and their teeth have been put to the test. 
     In these chapters, we learn of Jesus Ortiz, who works on the Bahia de Darwin. Ortiz has an utter admiration of the upper class, and truly believes if he works hard enough, he can be one of them. He does his best to serve the esteemed guests of the cruise; however, when MacIntosh cruelly ordered him to serve the lavish meat to the dog then get out, Ortiz slipped into disillusionment as his perceptions of the world shattered. He destroyed the ship's telephone box in rage and despair.
     We learn more about Seigfried van Kleist and his brother, the Captain. Seigfried van Kleist will soon die from Huntington's chorea like his father, but the Captain will be spared, and eventually be the paternal origin of all humankind. Bobby King, the founder of the "Nature Cruise of the Century", is introduced to us, and we see how obsessed he was with filling his passenger list with stars. After the President advised people not to go on the cruise, most of those who had RSVP'd withdrew their confirmation, and Bobby King was out of luck. 
      It's also important to note that Vonnegut revealed that James Wait and Mary Hepburn will eventually marry, and that the narrator was killed during the building of the Bahia de Darwin and now haunts the ship.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Discussion Leader: Chapters 15-21

1) Why do you think Vonnegut includes the information that Selena MacIntosh's blindness gave her
the trivial advantage of enjoying the feeling of fur more than anyone else? Does this information add any value or importance to the character and plot?

2) Before Jesus Ortiz rips apart the telephone cable box, his big brain reassures him that, "...of course we would never do such a thing," because Ortiz knows it would be an act of poor citizenship. Do you believe evolution and biology are responsible for prompting negative actions, or are they a result of societal boundaries and man-made stresses?

3) For Bobby King, one of the most important aspects of the "Nature Cruise of the Century" was to have celebrities on the list of passengers to make it more appealing to "average" people. What is it about celebrities and wealthy individuals that makes people want to be or act like them? Is it a matter of popular opinion that alters our personal opinions, or do celebrities posses qualities that all humans desire?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Discussion Leader chapters 8-14

1. Do you find it interesting, annoying, or have another feeling regarding Vonnegut's repetitiveness about something (for example, reminding us about the characters who are going to die by putting a star by their name.) ?

2. Why did Vonnegut tell us how Mary is going to die? Is this relevant to the story?

3. Why did Mary go on the cruise, even though she didn't want to and her husband is dead? Is it simply because she promised him?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chapters 8-14: A Summary

     In the story's eighth, ninth and tenth chapters, the narrator describes Mary Hepburn's relationship with her late husband, Roy, in his final months. Regrettably, Roy, who is afflicted by an inoperable brain tumor, loses his job only a short while before Mary is to lose hers. Having lost both his work and autonomy, Roy vests hope in "The Nature Cruise of the Century", or rather, "what he was staying alive for" (Pg. 37, L.10). His grasp of reality gradually loosens, to the extent that he comes to believe his four year old dog was present for atomic bomb tests that took place in 1946. On his deathbed, Roy reveals that his greatest regret was that that he had not reproduced. At Roy's behest, Mary swears to remarry as soon as she is able, as well as to board the Bahia de Darwin for "The Nature Cruise of the Century".
     In the eleventh chapter, the narrator introduces Adolf von Kleist, the Captain of the Bahia de Darwin who is said to become "the ancestor of every human being on the face of the earth today" (Pg. 49, L.25). The narrator also touches upon the relationship between Zenji and Hisako Hiroguchi, who will come to spawn a child, Akiko, who will bear a "pelt like a fur seal's" (Pg. 58, L.22). Zenji has invented both the Gokubi and the Mandarax, advanced translating machines that we are told will come to serve as a nuisance for the inhabitants of Santa Rosalia.
     The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters follow the business relationship between Zenji Hiroguchi and Andrew Macintosh, both of whom we are told are soon to die. Macintosh is looking to accrue property in Ecuador.


Ch. 8-14: Passage Person

1) "About that mystifying enthusiasm millions of years ago for turning over as many human activities as possible to machinery: What could that have been but yet another acknowledgement by people that their brains were no damn good?" (Ch. 8)

Vonnegut points out the irony of how we use our intelligence to make technology that exists to be smart FOR us.We pour everything into bettering our machinery, and Vonnegut suggests that this is so we can trust the artificial over our own unreliable minds. What do you think about humanity's constant struggle for innovation? Do you think the inventions that take burdens off of ourselves inhibit our skill and capacity for greatness, or just allow us to make further advancements? The desire for greater accomplishments drives the human race; what do you think would happen if humans no longer possessed this passion?

2) "Anybody looking for them would not be able to find them anywhere. Any big-brained search for them wouldn't even start on the correct continent." (Ch. 12)

I just wanted to draw attention to how Vonnegut always references "big brains" with a mocking tone. He obviously sees normal brains as more detrimental to humans than beneficial, and I wonder what humanity is like after the shift in brain power.

3) "But her self respect had been severely crippled by the discovery that a little black box could not only teach what she taught, but could do so in a thousand different tongues." (Ch. 14)

Here we see a consequence of Man's technological achievement. While it is rewarding to be able to create highly capable machinery, humans lose purpose as a result. We see this in today's society, for many people are being laid off and replaced my robots and technology; money is saved, but self worth isn't.


Connector- Chapters 8-14

The more and more this story progresses, the better it becomes, obviously. When I first began reading it, I thought it'd simply be another interesting story to read, but it's more than that; the way that Vonnegut writes keeps you hooked regardless if you want to be or not, but my favourite part? The book makes you think. This story of some unsuspecting characters makes the reader stop at certain points and compare their life and thought processes to those of the characters. It makes the reader stop and compare things of the book to those of the real world and other stories.

The first connection I made while reading this bit of Galapagos has to do with the American Sign Language class I'm taking right now.
   "He [Siegfried von Kleist] was unmarried and had never reproduced, and so was insignificant from an evolutionary point of view." [pg 49]
This is interesting because it's suggesting that because von Kleist had no children, he's basically pointless to the evolutionary system. I was reminded of ASL because last week I learned about a man named Alexander Graham Bell, who tried to completely exterminate all of the deaf community. He believed that because they had a hearing disorder, no matter how they came upon it, the person was inferior to the rest of his eugenic population. Because of this inferiority, Bell separated the deaf from each other, and had the children's parents convinced to sterilize them in order to prevent further reproduction within the deaf community, therefore, removing deaf people from the evolutionary process.
I find this connection interesting because in Galapagos, Vonnegut makes it clear that at some point, a person may no longer be able to contribute or matter to the process of evolution, just as in the real world some people will try to stop others from even becoming a part of the process at all.
                                      [I had to look up online trying to find exact dates and figured if you guys wanted to read more into this I'd give you a link. This page starts talking about Bell about half way down, to find it easier "control"/"F" the name "Bell". ]

My second connection, though serious, is also not as traumatic as the first.
 Wall-E. We know him, we love him, but how exactly is he related to Galapagos or Vonnegut?
Well, remember the part of the movie where all humans are on the spaceship, and the pilot learns that humans have been evolving so that they no longer have a pinky toe? Yeah, that's how.
Okay, maybe not the pinky toe thing, but the depletion of the human body part.
     "No person living today has hands clever enough or a brain big enough to operate a Gokubi or Manadarax." [pg 60]
So far in Galapagos, readers can gather that somewhere along human being's path through evolution, our brains begin to get smaller and smaller, and eventually fade basically into nothing. We're not sure why yet- perhaps we become too dependent on technology, or that's simply the way it has been for centuries and will be for many to come. Regardless, both the movie and book are suggesting that somewhere along the path of evolution, humans take a turn for the not-so-good. Though we may have technology, we may not have the brains to use them. Or the pinky toes.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Word Master- Chapters 8-14

inimical: tending to obstruct or harm (pg 40)

malarkey: nonsense, meaningless talk

 susurruses: whispers, murmurs (pg 48)

*I chose these words because I was unclear about the meaning of them, and they are interesting synonyms for commonly used words and ideas. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wordmaster: Chapters 1-8

1) Maybe a person who used to live on Galapagos or Guayaquil, Ecuador.
 2) To keep us as readers interested, and some way that will probably be explained because of their brains. 3)After the ship makes it to Galapagos.

This week my job was the word master, so here are some words to explore:
"to make extremely, excessively, or completely dry, as heat, sun, and wind do."
subterranean (pg 13)
existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground" 
asexual, (pg16)
1." free from affectation; sincere; genuine: The man showed unaffected grief at the death of his former opponent."
2."unpretentious, as a personality or literary style."
archipelago, (pg 18)
 "A large group or chain of islands."
lawlessness. (pg 23)
"Contrary to or without regard for the law: lawless violence."
polyethylene (pg 26)
"A  plastic polymer of ethylene used chiefly for containers, electrical insulation, and packaging."


Monday, February 10, 2014

Chapters 1-7: Connecting

In Galapagos, humanity has undergone an utter crash of the fiat economic system. Nations haven't become penniless, but rather their pennies mean absolutely nothing. Emphasis has been placed back on material goods, and currencies around the world have been rendered useless. In the fictional 1986 world Vonnegut has established, the characters are in the midst of this fiscal deterioration of society as they know it.      
     Having done some research on Vonnegut and Galapagos, I learned that it is very likely Vonnegut drew inspiration from the Latin American Debt Crisis of the 1980s. In the 1970s, there was a big push for lesser developed countries to industrialize, and many Latin American and African countries borrowed money in order to do so. While growth was measurable and observable for a short time, the slow world economy of the mid 70s combined with increasing oil prices and raising interest rates in the West caused progression in the less developed world to simmer down. Countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico struggled to repay debts, and the value of their respective currencies depleted drastically.
     When people are scared or insecure, they look for tangible things to cling to (although one could make a solid argument for the opposite view). In poor economic periods in the United States, the price of gold increases. There is a certain amount of risk in the fiat system, for if enough fear is infused into a culture or a nation or the whole human race, the entire system can collapse, as Vonnegut shows us in this work. I'm positive Vonnegut used this premise to make the reader reflect on his or her own faith in the invisible realm in which we deal with every day.

For more info about the Debt Crisis:


Chapters 1-7: Passage Discussion

1.     "He was then living in the fifth of a series of foster homes, essentially an orphan, since he was the product of an incestuous relationship between a father and a daughter who had run away from town, forever and together, soon after he was born" (Pg. 14, L.15-19) ... "All through his childhood, Wait was severely punished by foster parents for nothing and everything. It was expected by them that, because of his inbred parentage, he would become a moral monster." (Pg. 15, L.3-6)

     These excerpts from the story's third chapter serve not as a justification, but rather as a sort of explanation for the callous behavior of James Wait. Wait's character, having been abandoned in infancy and several times thereafter, is perhaps conditioned to evade personal attachment. It is arguably for this reason that he has wed seventeen women, whom he has so easily cast aside in favor of more wealth from more women. The expectation that Wait was to become a moral monster is of special significance. I imagine that this expectation has worn on him. If he believes himself to be devoid of moral principle, he will surely act accordingly. Later, in Chapter 5, the narrator addresses a handful of starving peoples whose central problem resembles Wait's, "It was all in people's heads." (Pg. 24, L.11)

2.     "The two with stars by their names would be dead before the sun went down. This convention of starring certain names will continue throughout my story, incidentally, alerting some readers to the fact that some characters will shortly face the ultimate Darwinian test of strength and wiliness. I was there, too, but perfectly invisible." (Pgs. 19-20, L.27-3)

     The story's narrator reveals provocative information in small doses, for instance, the death or unknown presence of a central character. This is brilliant choice on Vonnegut's part and one that has been employed in a handful of his other stories. These gripping plot elements are granted without context, effectively maintaining a sense of suspense within the reader.

3.     "To the credit of humanity as it used to be: More and more people were saying that their brains were irresponsible, unreliable, hideously dangerous, wholly unrealistic--were simply no damn good." (Pg. 25, L.14-17)

     We know that the necessity of the brain will make up a key theme in this story. What are your thoughts on the sentiment above and its reiterations that we've read thus far?

- Utah

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chapters 1-7 Summary

Here is a summary of chapters 1-7:

The story begins in the small seaport town of Guayaquil, Ecuador. The year is 1986, but the narrator is telling the story from one million years in the future. The narrator begins by explaining what the Galapagos Islands are and that, back in 1986 when humans had silly, big brains, there was speculation and various theories as to how the diversity of life got to the islands. In chapter 2, the narrator introduces James Wait- a man who has cleaned out each of his seventeen wives' bank accounts and left them. Wait is in the Hotel El Dorado in downtown Guayaquil, and has just purchased a ticket for the "Nature Cruise of the Century" to the Galapagos Islands. Wait checked into the Hotel El Dorado under the name Willard Flemming and claimed to be a Canadian engineer who recently lost his wife to cancer. In reality, Wait is a high school dropout and result of an incestuous father and daughter couple from Ohio. James Wait ran away and met a pimp who taught him to be a homosexual prostitute, then  later became a dance instructor and criminal womanizer. There are only five other passengers to be on the Bahia de Darwin nature cruise, all of which we are warned will soon be faced with the Darwinian test of survival.

The narrator goes on to tell that the world, in 1986, was enduring a financial crisis that was a part of a  series of catastrophes which had, "...originated in...human brains." (pg. 25) The world was going bankrupt, and it wasn't because of a lack of money or resources, but because of humanity's opinion of money and resources. People were starving even though plenty of food was available- a problem among many that oversized brains caused. Humanity's opinion of currency was plummeting at a rate that made many forms of money completely worthless. Vonnegut persistently reminds the reader that the evil in the world in 1986 was purely created by the human brain.

Chapter 6 introduces another one of the six passengers of the Bahia de Darwin, named Mary Hepburn,   a middle aged widow and retired biology teacher. We learn that Mary's oversized brain is her own worst enemy and is pushing her towards suicide, as well as producing many insecurities. Mary is concerned that she may have a brain tumor, like what her husband died from that very same year. It was her husband, after all, who signed the pair up for the "Nature Cruise of the Century," a decision that Mary is blaming her oversized brain for convincing her to follow through with.

The section closes with informing the reader that in the present, one million years after 1986, that Darwin's Law of Natural Selection has applied to human's brain sizes by making them smaller.

Side note: Vonnegut was also from the midwest and studied mechanical engineering for some time at the University of Tennessee. I am curious to see if there will be any other parallels between James Wait and the author.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Week One: Chapters 1-7

For those of you who have read or previously begun reading this book, you don't have to answer these questions. Or, at least don't spoil it for others who haven't read the book yet. Thank you!

   As Discussion Leader for this week I have to come up with three (or more) questions regarding this section of the book for you to answer. They're open ended questions (short answers, not "yes" or "no"), and are either about the book itself, or about something that happened directly in the book. Here we go!

1) Who do you think the narrator is, and how did he die? Why is he the one telling the story?

2) "The two with stars by their names would be dead before the sun went down." [19] As the narrator tells us a little about the other passengers' on the ship, he puts stars next to those who are going to die, and says that this will continue throughout the story. Why do you think he let us know that these characters are going to die, and how are they going to die?

3)"The Bahia de Darwin was also doomed, but not yet ready for a star by her name."[21] The narrator lets us know that the ship is going to go down eventually, but not when. Do you think this will happen before, or after the ship makes it to Galapagos?


Thursday, February 6, 2014


We are Kayla, Utah, Lillian, Juliana, and Alana, and we are reading and dissecting Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. We chose this book because we were interested in reading something by Vonnegut, for he offers a new perspective on science fiction and the human condition. In Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut examines the novelty and necessity of the human mind through an inclusive analysis of the moral complications of human evolution. Enjoy!