Breakfast of Champions’ Chapters 11-15
“Sugar creek flooded now and then. Dwayne remembered about that. In a land so flat, flooding was a queerly pretty thing for water to do. Sugar Creek brimmed over silently, formed a vast mirror in which children might safely play. The mirror showed the citizens the shape of the valley they lived in, demonstrated that they were hill people who inhabited slopes rising one inch for every mile that separated them from Sugar Creek” (97)
That explains all the mirrors. The novel utilizes mirrors as a third person perspective in order for the viewer to see themselves as they actually appear. Sugar Creek shows its viewers where they live and who they are. The part of the quotation beginning at “who inhabited” and going to the end conveys where they exist in space and in relation to the Creek, the revealer itself. Stay with me though, that last part only matters because it separates the citizens from itself. Trout describes mirrors on page 19 as depicting another universe meaning that we must be removed from reality in order to see it. We do not see things as they exist. We exist in a world of thought and it takes a complete physical removal like being in another universe in order to see oneself and the world as it exists. Also a flood could be thought of as a leak of sorts. Pun away Vonneboy.
“Neither one of them was a veteran” (106)
In context this clarifies Trout and the truck driver’s military service, but it also emphasizes how neither of them get a second chance in life. Everyone is an amateur at life and the most important moments in life are determined by dry runs. No one knows what to say in dangerous or high pressure scenarios. They just go through them with whatever they have.
“It never was real easy to see,” said Lyle, speaking of the cross. “I ain’t even sure it’s there anymore” (120)
Contextually this is about The Sacred Miracle in Sacred Miracle Cave. Here is both the novel’s dismissal of a single cure for life’s problems and slight validation for Trout’s ideas last chapter that everything appears necessary. Necessary because overwhelming change will inevitably come. Things merely are.
“The rights of the people on top of the ground don’t amount to nothing compared to the rights of the man who owns what’s underneath” (130)
Which appears to me as a loaded metaphor that emphasizes the supremacy of essence over anything else. This goes back to how the way we think about things and the systems we use to arrive at our conclusions are more important in understanding an individual than the conclusions themselves.
Another stroke of darkness on page 144, the Bannister Kid’s Law is junked in favor of modernizing communication rather than remembering human life and Vonnegut leaves us this nugget.
“But nobody ever though about him anymore by the time Dwayne Hoover met Kilgore Trout. There wasn’t much to think about him, actually, even at the time of his death, except that he was young”
He was just an ideal of youth, a reminder of a happier time for everyone that didn’t last.
N.B. – The Bannister fieldhouse not only commemorates the lost possibility and vitality of Hickman but also that of Patty Keene considering her rape in the building parking lot.
“That was the main reason the people in Midland City were so slow to detect insanity in their associates. Their imaginations insisted that nobody changed much from day to day. Their imaginations were flywheels on the ramshackle machinery of the awful truth” (146-7)
Sounds like a good definition of insanity to me. Again this shows the mind’s incredible power and the implicit weakness within that power. We can make anything appear true (for ourselves at least).
“Sometimes I wonder about the Creator of the Universe” (163)
Yeah, me too pal.