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Mother Night Essay

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Mother Night

What intrigued me the most when reading Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut, were the quotes. He says things in a way that really make you step back and think. You could almost tell this book’s story by discussing some of the quotes. In Mother Night, apolitical expatriate American playwright Howard W. Campbell, Jr. refashions himself as a Nazi propagandist in order to pass coded messages on to the U.S. generals and preserve his marriage to a German womanвЂ"their "nation of two," as he calls it. But in serving multiple masters, Campbell ends up ruining his life and becoming an unwitting inspiration to bigots. "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Vonnegut introduces this as the moral of his book. "There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too." It's never been more true: Left or right, Christian or Muslim, those convinced they're doing violence in service of a higher power and against an irretrievably inhuman enemy are the most dangerous creatures of all. But is Howard really such a bad man? All throughout reading the book, I would ask myself that question. No he doesn’t seem to show much emotion, but doesn’t that in a way seem understandable when you think about all he’s done and seen? If he were to show emotion, he would go crazy. I know I would. Though he does seem to have a conscience, somehow, somewhere, deep down inside he is trapped. Trapped inside of the mess he’s gotten himself into. I think he knows to that there is no way out, so he remains as this man he has pretended to be for so many years. Howard writes his story from a jail cell in old Jerusalem in 1961, while awaiting a fair trial for his war crimes by the republic of Israel. He is has a different guard for different parts of the day and night. One of them is Mengel. You are the only man I ever heard of,” Mengel says to me this morning, “who has a bad conscience about what he did in the war. Everybody else, no matter what he did, is sure a good man could not have acted in any other way.” “What makes you think I have a bad conscience?” I said. “The way you sleep, the way you dream,” he said. Howard tells Mengel about New York. “ “New York must be Heaven,” said Mengel. “It might well be for you”,



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