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Title Comparisons: Vonnegut and Twain

The Title: Lodge’s Ideas applied to Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories

According to David Lodge, titles “bring into sharper focus of what the novel is about.” For Kurt Vonnegut, the titles brought sharper focus into what the short stories were not specifically stating or discussing. For example, in Adam, there was no mention of anyone named Adam. Instead, after reading the short story, the reader realizes that the author is in fact using a religious allusion to create a better understanding of the story. Religiously speaking, Adam was the first man. He was a new creation, a new being, a new start. In the story, Avchen and Heinz’s newborn is their Adam because he is a new beginning for them.

David Lodge also states that, “titles could indicate a theme . . . promise a certain kind of setting and atmosphere . . .” Kurt Vonnegut’s title are not as revealing about the theme of the story as Mark Twain’s titles were. In Mark Twain’s short stories, some titles tell the story. For example, The Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief, contains both the character of the story and the end as well. It is clear that the boy in the story is a bad boy but he “doesn’t come to grief” meaning he receives no punishment and does not face any trials for the trouble he causes or the sins he commits. This is proven in the story when Jim does many bad things including the murder of his family but continues to live a happy and successful life. Whereas in Vonnegut’s stories, such as Long Walk to Forever, the titles barely hint at the main idea or theme of the story. For Vonnegut, the reader does not understand the significance of the title until they’ve read the whole short story whereas Twain’s titles tell the story all on their own.

Another difference between the style of the two authors is that Twain’s titles and stories tend to have religious allusions and in this way, the stories are able to connect. For Vonnegut’s short stories, there is not reoccurring theme for the titles or the stories. Each title enhances small details or phrases within the story that the reader may have otherwise overlooked.

Although Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain have differences in title selection, both of the authors’ titles impact the reader’s view and condition them to see through a very specific lens. This allows for the reader to clearly understand what is being said, although Vonnegut’s titles do allow for more critical thinking when connecting the title to the story.


1 Comment

  1. hawks389 says:

    I agree with the blogger on the fact that Vonnegut and Twain use their titles in diffrent ways. Twain’s titles were long and gave a overview of his stories such as “The Bad Little Boy Who Did Not Come To Grief”. The title already tells the reader what the stroy is gonna be about and how it ends. Vonnegut in contrast has short titles that can only be understood after reading the story as seen in “Adam”. The reader is given no information besides a name and after reading they finally understand the story and the titles connection to eachother.

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