2BR02B, one of Vonnegut’s last short stories, explores the ethical dilemmas and untenable trade-offs. Is it far-fetched to think that we are trading our lives for the lives of our children? Vonnegut makes this a literal trade in this story. The conservationist idealism seems a bit suspicious until the issues are examined on a deeper level. The reader cannot help but ask: what are the unintended effects as science and medicine make life-extending advancements? How does that effect population and the future lives of generations to come. Vonnegut propels his reader towards these examinations in this short, but powerful story set in the not-too- distant future.
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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of three children. He graduated from Shortridge High School in 1940, and majored in chemistry at Cornell University. Kurt enlisted in the U. S. Army during World War II, and was transferred to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, then the University of Tennessee for mechanical engineering. On Mother’s Day 1944, his mother committed suicide. Sent into combat, due to a manpower shortage, Vonnegut was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in Dresden. He survived the firebombing of Dresden by the Allies, by staying in an underground meat locker, nicknamed “Slaughterhouse Five.” He was freed by Russian troops in 1945 and given a Purple Heart. After the war, he attended the University of Chicago in the graduate anthropology program and worked for the City News Bureau. Moving to Schenectady, New York, he took a job at General Electric, where his older brother worked, and served as a Volunteer Fire-Fighter. Vonnegut worked briefly for “Sports Illustrated,” then at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. It was there that he wrote “Cat’s Cradle” and “Slaughterhouse-Five,” which are considered by many to be some of the best novels of the 20th century. After that, he moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts and opened one of the first Saab dealerships in the country. It closed within a year. Vonnegut married Jane Marie Cox in 1946, but they separated in 1970 and divorced in 1979. They had three children. He married Jill Krementz in 1979 and they adopted a daughter. When his sister died of cancer, they also adopted three of her four children. Kurt died on April 11, 2007, at the age of 84, in New York City, after falling down a flight of stairs at his home.
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