2 B R 0 2 B • Hamlet: To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause—there's the respect That makes calamity of so long life.
Higher Level • Note the foreshadowing of the room’s purpose, “The room was being redecorated. It was being redecorated as a memorial to a man who had volunteered to die.” • The mural erased the old world to be replaced by one in which death is simply an option, much liked the new generation wipes the old. • The archetypal meaning behind purple is new growth and its opposite is injury, fitting in a story where the new growth comes at the voluntary death of another.
Higher Level • The painted garden symbolizes the new world where each body takes on the symbolic meaning of the roles of the administrators of society. • “But the deepest thanks of all is from future generations.” As always, sacrifice is what is necessary to help the future. • One possible theme is the lack of appreciation for life and death similar to Death of a Ball Turret Gunner and Ambush • Hamlet’s monologue points to the consideration of mortality and the choices between life and death.
Adam Kurt Vonnegut
The story opens in a hospital in Chicago • We see the distinction between Mr. Sousa, a large man who seems to only have girls, and Mr. Knetchman, a 22 year old Holocaust survivor who seems weary and small • Each one of his family members died during the Nazi occupation • His first child Karl Knetchman also passed away with the name of his famous father • Heinz is hoping that the future lives of his children to replenish the great names of his lost family- death and rebirth
As Heinz relishes the idea of having a boy, he is told that his wife is has “pelvis trouble” • Heinz is separated from Dr. Powers before he is able to talk about how “magnificent” it all is.
Part Two • Heinz is unable still unable to talk to anyone on the way to the nursery- isolation- “no one gave him more than a cursory glance.” • “missed an urgent invitation to share for a moment his ecstasy.” • Note the difference between the value of names between Sousa and Knetchman. Sousa cannot think of a name, while Knetchman has many waiting names
“They’re too close to see the miracle of it. A miracle over and over again --- the world made new.” – death and rebirth; the lack of appreciation for the sanctity of life. • Heinz looks for people to celebrate with but runs into more people that care little for the miracle of life and more for the White Sox. • “They’re all too busy to notice life, to feel anything about it.”
The next day Heinz is part of the backdrop of the city, “ a grey uninteresting man.” • It is only the love he has for his wife Avchen, that brightens his day. • Only Avchen, the only other person that knows how precious life is, appreciates that it is “the most wonderful thing that ever happened.”