Choose one of the options listed on the prompt
This is an essay about Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. The prompt as well as a pdf and ebook of the novel are attached as is one of the secondary sources referenced in the prompt. I don’t care which topic you choose as long as the paper is well written and incorporates appropriate and sufficient use of quotes and thoughtful analysis. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional sources, and thank you for your help.
Here’s the prompt:
Paper Length: 5-7 pages
Choose ONE the prompts below and write an essay. You may utilize secondary sources that we have read this semester(Plato, McLuhen, Boyd, Kidder), but your primary focus should be the primary texts. Your essay should explicate the primary texts—making clear the information and passages you find important. Be sure to include relevant quotes or paraphrasing from the text, and use MLA Style—parentethical citation. Keep in mind, plagiarism is a serious academic offense—when in doubt cite your sources. Write your essay in grammatical English with a focus on strength of argument, smooth transitions from paragraph to paragraph, and clarity of meaning. Be creative and concise!
1) The fictional worlds of Player Piano and Brazil depicts a utopian/dystopian view if the future. In other words, the novel envisions a society where machines and a centralized governmental structure control nearly every aspect of peoples’ lives. Write an essay that examines how the present world is similar or different from that of the texts. Use evidence from the texts to support your claims.
2) Discuss the role of faith in the novel. The Shah of Bratpuhr, the spiritual leader of his people, is often seen exalting the takaru to brahouna, or translated from Vonnegut’s fictional language, to “live slaves.” The Shah’s spiritual counterpart in the novel is Lasher—the minister and revolutionary who wants “for the record” to stand up against the lack of spiritual meaning in the lives of the “citizens” of Ilium. What is the role of faith in the novel? Does faith in machinery/ technology rise to a kind of religion?
3) The role of women in Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano is a complicated one. There are only a few prominent female characters in novel—Paul’s wife, Anita; his secretary, Katherine, and Kroner’s wife, called Mom. There are others as well, but it often seems as the women are relegated to a position of powerlessness. Why might Vonnegut have written the female characters this way? What larger issues are in play?
4) From the beginning of the novel Paul seems clouded by doubt and misgivings. Indeed, Paul’s life is often not his own. Whether as manager of the Ilium works, or figurehead for the Ghost Dance society, Paul seems to be dragged along by the events of history. Write an essay that examines the inner workings of Paul Proteus. Do he have a choice in his actions? Are his dreams realistic, idealistic, or combination of both. In other words, does Paul represent the futility of human progress?
5) What is the role of education in Player Piano? Consider the varying degrees(pun intended) of people within the novel. How does education define class status, and how does IQ score limit the possibility of moving forward in an upwardly mobile fashion? Be sure to consider both the managers and engineers as well a character like Bud. Are the educated people in the novel really the best and brightest, or does the human capacity for knowledge transcend a mere test score?
6) Discuss the symbolism of the play performed at the Meadows. Pay particular attention to how the play mimics and simplifies the story arc of the novel. Why is this important, and why do simple stories that show a clear right and wrong so often get used as propaganda? Compare the simplicity of the ending of the play to the complex and ambiguous ending of the novel.
7) Pick your own topic! You may consider aspects of the novel not discussed in the prompts above. Or, you may combine aspects of various questions(such as spirituality and education) to form a new mode of questioning all your own. If you choose this option, please be aware that there is only so much space in a paper this size—so keep your thoughts concise and on topic. You might choose to focus on a specific character or scene in the novel that you find important.
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