Satire in the Cold War Era: Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana and Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions
Date of Award
Dr. Martha Carpentier
Dr. Mary Balkun
Cold War, Satire, Kurt Vonnegut, Graham Greene, Postmodernism
Both Graham Greene and Kurt Vonnegut use satire to interrogate the social uneasiness during the Cold War; however, each author uses satire in different ways. Greene’s novel Our Man in Havana demonstrates this unease, as almost every character is paranoid besides the vacuum salesman and inept “spy” Wormold, who uses fiction to fabricate the reports he sends to the Secret Intelligence Service. Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions also has a protagonist who is strongly impacted by fiction, as Dwayne Hoover is so affected by Kilgore Trout’s literature that it drives him insane. Both authors use different satiric techniques as a means of critiquing the truth that is lacking in society: Wormold creates bogus stories that come true and creates chaos, while Hoover believes bogus stories as the truth and creates chaos. Greene uses a Horatian and high burlesque narrative that allows him to display the uncertainty in Cold War Cuba, as his formal writing style understates the ridiculousness of Wormold’s misadventures. Vonnegut is a Juvenalian and grotesque satirist, both as an author and as a character, thus his informal narration allows him to explicitly address the tribulations of society and their effects on his other characters. Ultimately, this thesis will analyze Greene’s subtle satiric methods compared to Vonnegut’s exaggerated methods, as they both use different narrative and satirical structures to display similar societal concerns of the Cold War era.
Eslami, Sara, "Satire in the Cold War Era: Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana and Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions" (2021). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2873.
Literature in English, British Isles Commons, Literature in English, North America Commons