Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Monkey House

Vonnegut was a genius. He had such a way of writing, of creating a scene, that is just unlike any other. In this story, "Welcome to the Monkey House," Vonnegut leaves us with a dystopian society that doesn't feel too unfamiliar. If you're familiar with Huxley's work, I call to light Brave New World. The stories are similar in that they portray a society that is forced into taking drugs, yet Vonnegut tends to focus on more of society being de-fertilized. In the world of the story, sex is seen as criminal, as being so despicable and vile. The population is considerably high, at 17 billion, and the government has mandatory birth control for the citizens to take. Those who do not take this birth control are referred to as "nothingheads." While Vonnegut builds the story to make nothingheads seem like monsters,; yet towards the end, after Billy the Poet forcibly has sex with Nancy the Hostess, he almost makes it seem justifiable. The picture he paints is done with a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Sonnet 43), which makes Billy the Poet less of a monster, and more of a hero. This is a world without love, and while I don't think sex and love always go hand in hand, it definitely does add to that emotion. Sexual intercourse is reproduction, but Billy keeps it separate from that, using it more as a means of expression, of connecting with one another. In a world with no sex, there can be no closeness, in the sense of truly sharing yourself with someone in a wholesome way. Vonnegut takes us to a world where love is evil, love makes the population grow, and that is a no-no for these people. Yet, the nothingheads have the right idea; sex can be good for more than just reproduction. It's just naturally something we need, and I think Vonnegut would agree, when you take something natural 100% from peoples' lives, you'll have a bunch of depressed people. This explains why people would so voluntarily opt for a suicide booth. With no love, what do we have? And without sex, can we have that special love we've all heard of, or read about in the stories we've read? 


  1. I agree that by taking something natural from someones life could cause depression, but I do believe that there still can be closeness without sex. I don't feel that without sex you can't be very close to someone special, I think at times it can bring people even closer because you don't have to worry about the possible insecurities that could possibly arise.

    1. Well as a Navy Wife who hasn't seen or had sex with her spouse in over 6 months I agree with Corey, There is a closness in our marriage despite the distance and despite the lack of physical intimacy. I think you're right about a lot of this but I definitely know from experience that love can still exist without sex. And sex isn't a crime in this story, it's just desensitized, people can still have sex there's just no feeling from it. So a married couple could still have kids if they wanted there just wouldn't be accidental children from passionate one night stands.