Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos was written one million years ahead of the year 1986 AD. The novel was written in the narrative style of a story being told from a grandfather to a grandson. The author Kurt Vonnegut express the theme very well throughout the novel, it is presented from cover to cover: That’s man’s intelligence will be the downfall and destruction of the human race. That our are so called big brains drive people to go further into technology and create new weapons that will lead to the destruction of man kind. There are many quotations from the novel Galapogos that represent the theme and Vonnegut’s opinion on the direction society is headed. He writes this book based on his own view and opinions of the world, what it has become and where in his eyes it is headed. He expresses his creativity, imagination and unique way of thinking in his writing of Galapogos; it’s an amazing picture made by Vonnegut of what the future could turn out to be.
The feeling that reader gets when reading Galapogos is that it takes place in 1986 AD, but is really being told from the future. The story begin with six or so people wanting to take a nature cruise to the Galapogos Island’s, but a war breaks out at the port of Guayaquil where the cruise is supposed to leave from. In result of the war the owner or supporter of the cruise thinks for the safety of the six or so passengers, the ship should leave port and be safe at sea. After the ship leaves port, and ends up at the Galapogos Islands. The war is destroying everything and everyone, all of society is wiped out and the six or so passengers that are left on the ship are all that is left of the human race. After the passengers realize that they’re the last hope for the survival of the human race, they begin trying to start a new human race. They succeed in continuing the human race but its a simpler and less technology based race, because the genetics on the island weren’t very strong. The author Vonnegut believes this to be a great thing, that the new race is simpler minded. Vonnegut expresses this opinion in the theme of Galapogos.
Vonnegut believes this to be a great thing, in his opinion humans are to smart for there own dawn good. He expresses this belief in the theme of the book Galapogos. That humans are too big brained as Vonnegut put it in his book or to smart for there own good. The idea of wanting to go further into technology will be the downfall of the human race, in his book and in real life. That with all the new bombs that are being made that can destroy whole countries and possibly start the next world war. A quotation from the book supports this idea, it takes place in the book when the captain of the cruise ship is talking about how good the technology has gotten and how bad that is for the world: “Utterly meaningless wrath from outer space could trigger World War Three.”(133) This means that the technology is so good and advanced that its ignorant to the simplest things. The system could mistake a meteorite for a missile being fired at America, which could result in the American’s being scared enough to fire back and start a war. This is just another example of how technology could be the downfall of the human race. Another example of how the big brains of the 20th century are bad for the human race, is when the narrator is stating an example of how humans back then didn’t care for human life as they should of: “More and more people back then, and not just Andrew MacIntosh, had found the survival of the human race a total bore.”(81) This means the human back then didn’t look to the future, they were just concerned on living their life and not worried about the next generation. This is the kind of thinking that is not needed if we want our future generations to not have to worry about running out of supplies a thousand years from now.
Vonnegut refers to the people who are to smart for there own good as big brained people. What I see him meaning by this is, that the evolution of man and the consistent pursuit for better and more advanced technology is what he is referring to as being big brained. It is a general statement that is put over people and their evolution, not individuals. The idea of the brains of the past going to far into technology is supported in the book when, the narrator gives his opinion on the war that is about to happen in Guayaquil. The narrator states: “During my entire lifetime, there wasn’t a day when, somewhere on the planet, there wasn’t a day when, somewhere on the planet, there wasn’t at least three wars going on.”(156) This means in the 20th century everyone in the world had the ability to start and participate in a war. Vonnegut thinks that this means we are too far into technology, when any angry person could have the power to destroy a whole state or country. He later leads the reader to think that in a million years, everyone is so much better, than everyone in the 20th century (same introduction information as quote before): “Nobody today is nearly smart enough to make the sort of weapons even the poorest nation had a million years ago.”(156) That in the future everything is better because people are to stupid to make nuclear weapons of the past. In result of there stupidity, there is no real threat of mass destruction in the future.
Vonnegut gives examples about the big brained human race making to many split decisions on impulse. Decisions that are not thought through properly, decisions that are made quick or spur of the moment; this was later said to be the greatest downfalls of the human race. Vonnegut gives an example of this when the character James Wait has just made a decision without thinking about it and then the narrator says: “It’s Wait’s big brain’s idea. It wasn’t anything he himself had particularly wanted to do.”(180) He makes a decision that will end up hurting him and Vonnegut thinks this is the great downfall of the human race. Another example of this comes when there is a lot of anarchy in front of the cruise ship at port and one of the guards starts shooting all over the place. He does this because he was panicked and didn’t take the time to think and make a better decision than the one he made: “In a matter of seconds, a typical brain of the a million ago, had turned the best citizen of Guayaquil into a ravening terrorist.”(93) He shows that a perfectly good and intelligent person could be pushed by this own big brain to make a bad decision. This just shows that the oversized brains of the past were just another flaw in the history of mankind.
I believe that Vonnegut has a strong opinion on the future of mankind and is obviously a little bitter about all that has happened to the world to this point in 1985. He does prove and support his theme in the quotations and opinions throughout the book. Vonnegut gives many examples of what could happen to the world and what is currently happening to it as we speak. Not only does he think that man can be the only downfall to mankind, but thinks it will happen some time, the real question is when. In my opinion he is just a little extreme in his views of the world, the world is a bad place, but it is not to the point of mass destruction. I believe that human nature will play a large role in mankind’s existence. When all is said and done, people don’t have that level of brutality in them to create mass destruction of that nature.