God Bless You, Mr Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

Eliot Rosewater was the President of the Rosewater Foundation. A sum of money was the leading character in this story about people. The money was placed with a charitable foundation in 1947 for Norman Mushari, a boy. The president post of the foundation would be handed down to Senator Lister Ames Rosewater. All the siblings would be officers of the Foundation by default. The purpose of the Rosewater Corporation was to generate more money through purchase of stocks and bonds of other companies. They owned some other side businesses too. The Corporation gave money to the Foundation but they had no control what each other did. Norman Mushari, of Lebanese decent, was a lawyer who designed the Foundation and Corporation. No one in the law firm ate with him. He wanted to overthrow the foundation. Leech, his professor, told him that lawyers should show to transactions where large amounts of money changed hands.

In every big transaction, there is a magic moment during which a man has surrendered a treasure, and during which the man who is due to receive it has not yet done so. An alert lawyer will make that moment his own, possessing the treasure for a magic microsecond, taking a little of it, passing it on. If the man who is to receive the treasure is unused to wealth, has an inferiority complex and shapeless feelings of guilt, as most people do, the lawyer can often take as much as half the bundle, and still receive the recipient’s blubbering thanks. – Leech

Eliot Rosewater was the senator’s son and suspected to be insane. Eliot became president of the foundation in 1947. Mushari investigated him some 17 years later. He wanted to prove that Eliot was insane. Eliot’s grandpa became rich in the past by bribing the government and by buying all the farms in Rosewater County. He owned many stakes in the county’s other operations. The problem of society was that personal wealth had no limit to it. This was the American class system. Praise was given to those who committed crimes against which no laws had been passed. Those hardworking people were bloodsuckers and only the mighty powerful few controlled the county. The rich were too obscenely wealthy. ‘Grab much too much, or you’ll get nothing at all’. Samuel married Geraldine Ames Rockefeller. He didn’t believe in a utopia, yet he spent a lot of money on expensive paintings. Lister Ames Rosewater married Eunice Eliot Morgan. Eunice was a chess master in her heyday. She died in an accident and was concerned about the poor. My father, Lister, worked in the Congress as a senator and taught morals. He gave 95% of his inherited wealth to the Foundation. Eliot married Sylvia DuVrais Zetterling, a beauty of a woman. Later, Eliot became a drunkard and an aimless fool. His advice in a letter for the new President of the foundation was to be sincere towards the poor. Mushari requested letters from Sylvia for his investigations and eventually got them.

Eliot’s father was a senator. He went to good schools, but was never outstanding. Later, he volunteered for the US infantry. Soon, he graduated with a law degree and took over the Foundation. He was a heavy drinker too. The foundation helped a birth control clinic. Eliot spend a lot of the foundation’s money. Eliot said this in a science-fiction writers’ event.

Many, many good things have I bought! Man, many bad things have I fought! – Eliot Rosewater

You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstandings, mistakes, accidents and catastrophes do to us. You’re the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distances without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be heaven or Hell. – Eliot Rosewater

He wished for Kilgore Trout. He admired him when no one else knew about him. Mushari thought Trout’s books were dirty. Trout longed for an impossibly hospitable world. ‘What in hell are people for?’ Eliot was a fireman. He admired people who worked in the infantry. His father had high hopes for him when he was young. Eliot drove away his rich friends because they were only lucky. Now Eliot went back into the arts and sciences and was popular again. His analyst and him often spoke about American history.

And what methods did Caesar Augustus use to put this disorderly house in order? He did what we are so often told we must never, ever do, what we are told will never, ever work: he wrote morals into law, and he enforced those unenforceable laws with a police force that was cruel and unsmiling. He made it illegal for a Roman to behave like a pig…Did it work? You bet your boots it did! Pigs miraculously disappeared! …This was known as the Golden Age of Rome. – Eliot Rosewater

I see two alternatives…we can write morals into law, and enforce those morals harshly, or we can return to a true Free Enterprise System…I emphatically favor the latter alternative. We must be hard, for we must become again a nation of swimmers, with the sinkers quietly disposing of themselves. – Eliot Rosewater

Eliot saw similarities between himself and Hamlet. He left his wife and wanted to roam. Later he was arrested in Texas. He believed in equal distribution of wealth. He wanted a revolution led by infantry veterans and volunteer firemen. Eliot was going crazy and thought his wife was Ophelia. The problem was that he didn’t want to reveal his location. The foundation owned many real estate. Eliot was in the Rosewater County and felt that was his true home. He was there to care for people. All the factories were mechanized and there was no need for humans. No one cared about there.

I look at these Americans and I realize that they can’t even care about themselves any more – because they are useless. I’m going to be an artist. I’m going to love these discarded Americans, even though they’re useless and unattractive. That is going to be my work of art. – Eliot Rosewater

Many people lost money in their investments in Rosewater. The brewery on the county was a real proud thing to have. There was a saw company there too. There was a veteran’s memorial park too. It was like a monarchy run by Eliot. Many people from Avondale respected him. Eliot and Sylvia throw rich banquets for poor people. They took care of the poor people. Later, the people of Avondale started to rebel. Sylvia suffered a nervous breakdown 5 years later. She entered a mental hospital. Ed Brown was the psychiatrist and Charley was the Fire Chief. The treatment made her dumb but sedated her consciousness. Samaritrophic treatment wouldn’t work on Eliot because he was too strong willed and compassionate. Later, Sylvia would enter stages of paranoia. She was happy for a moment before she was crazy again. She still wanted to help the people in Rosewater. Divorce proceedings finally begun. People thought that if Eliot wasn’t drunk, he wouldn’t care about the people. Although he had an awesome life, he was rich and stuff, he didn’t like it. He could have been the president of the US, but chose not to and look at where he ended up now. Eliot was a fat man now, so unlike the days when he was with the US Army.

To help people, Eliot needed medicine too. Astronauts bored them. His father wished that Eliot and him were both dead. Sylvia didn’t want a reconciliation with Eliot. She felt worthless and thought about suicide. The senator that the people Eliot were helping were worthless and useless. Lightning turned everything to blue-white diamonds. When he was a fireman, Eliot was always busy fighting fires. ‘This is the Rosewater Foundation. How can we help you?’ Only a handful of people tried to leave Rosewater County to find proper work. Diana Moon Glampers, a hopeless old woman, was too dumb to live and called Eliot. She was the cleaner of the Rosewater mansion. Her parents died from lightning attacks. Eliot said that he would try to help her because she was scared of electricity. Eliot cared about too many people and didn’t want to see them die. She said life was hopeless because of her health problems. She complained about her kidneys and Eliot wanted her to visit a doctor. The doctor said that the problem with her kidneys were because she was overthinking it. She respected Eliot for living a humble life where he could help others.

You gave up everything a man is supposed to want, just to help the little people, and the little people know it. God bless you, Mr. Rosewater. Good night. – Diana Moon Glampers

The senator didn’t like his son. He blamed himself for the misfortune for how Eliot turned out. During the WWII, Eliot accidentally killed three unarmed firemen when he raided a place by throwing a grenade. Later, Eliot wanted to kill himself and laid on the road. Luckily, the vehicle stopped in time. Eliot despises art and feels that it failed him. Discrimination happened when you loved someone more than another. There was a man, Arthur Ulm. Eliot gave him money simply because he wanted to tell the truth without any economic consequences. Eliot allowed him to pick his own subject. Sylvia were talking to the senator and McAllister in the room. There was one poem which was Eliot’s favorite. Eliot hated the arts but liked writing poems. ‘If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.’ Eliot was now reading a book by Arthur Ulm. Ulm wrote about how horrible society was and was thankful for Eliot’s encouragement along the way. The Senator rued not taking care of Eliot when he was younger. In the past, a psychoanalyst was being difficult with the Senator and asked what the definition of obscenity was. To the Senator, sending people to prison even though they committed a small crime was not obscene. The psychoanalyst told him that if a man gets aroused by something other than a woman, he was a pervert. Every case of perversion was a case of crossed wires. Eliot was bringing his sexual desires to Utopia.

If a man has but one child, and the family is famous for producing unusual, strong-willed individuals, what standards can the man have for deciding whether or not his child is a nut? – The Senator

If Eliot is going to love everybody, no matter what they are, no matter what they do, then those of us who love particular people for particular reasons had better find ourselves a new world. – The Narrator

We don’t piss in your ashtrays, so please don’t throw cigarettes in our urinals. – Poster

Two-Seed-in-the Spirit Predestinarian Baptist. That’s what I generally say when people insist I must have a religion…Foot washing is practiced, and the ministers draw no pay. I wash my feet, and I draw no pay. – Eliot Rosewater

Those who write on Heaven’s walls should mold their shit in little balls. And those who read these lines of wit should eat these little balls of shit. – Eliot Rosewater

Heaven is the bore of bores, so most wraiths queue up to be reborn – and they live and love and fail and die, and they queue up to be reborn again. – Eliot Rosewater

A man dialed the black phone and Eliot answered. He admitted that he was worst than nothing. It was a hotline for people to dial when they wanted to kill themselves. People thought that Eliot was a saint who gave love and money. Eliot dreaded a moment, but didn’t say what it was. Eliot said he represented the government. The man invited him over to his house after Eliot challenged him ‘I’d ask you to name the rock-bottom price you’d charge to go on living for just one more week’. Later, Eliot recorded the man’s details in a book and awarded him a Rosewater Fellowship of $300. Those were grateful for Eliot’s help would help him swat flies in his office. Eliot didn’t want to be reborn. He didn’t believe in a Heaven. Someone else dialed the helpline. She was Stella Wakeby. She complained that people used to stand on their own two feet. She called just to inform Eliot that the Wakebys were fine. The problem was that she wanted to be a Senator Rosewater person but can’t now and had to be an Eliot Rosewater person. Then his dad called him one fine day. His dad didn’t like that he was talking down to him. In a moment, his dad wanted Eilot to question about his dream and reflect on how he entered such a disreputable condition. He loved his life and didn’t want to buy expensive paintings again. Eliot had communist thoughts in a way when he wanted to help others. He wanted people to share more. In a moment of reflection, he knew that the Rosewaters were born near the money river. The senator suggested that people should work hard instead. Eliot believed that to be rich, one had to go to the money river and interact with the rich and the powerful. He didn’t believe that life was fair to the poor sometimes. Eliot gave everyone notes that read ‘I love you’. However, his dad didn’t want to receive any of that. Later, his ex-wife, Sylvia got to speak to Eliot. Initially, Eliot didn’t want his wife to care about anything. Mushari was suspicious when he overheard Eliot wanting to baptize young children.

I think it’s terrible the way people don’t share things in this country. I think it’s a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. – Eliot Rosewater

Born slurpers (people obsessed with money) never admit that they are. And they can’t imagine what the poor people are talking about when they say they hear somebody slurping. They don’t even know what it means when somebody mentions the Money River. – Eliot Rosewater

Eliot and Sylvia agreed to meet again for once. Mushari was eavesdropping on their conversation. He wanted control of the Foundation to go to Eliot’s second cousin, Fred Rosewater, so that he could get a cut of the proceeds in future. Fred was a very ordinary man and wasn’t aware that he might get rich. A lot of people in Pisquontuit were rich but their lives lacked wisdom, wit and invention. Fred was poor and worked hard. To get rich, one would had to insure themselves and then die soon because Fred sold insurance. His wife was Caroline and he had a kid named Franklin Rosewater. Fred didn’t know his ancestors. The bible says ‘business is business.’ George Rosewater filed no suit against his brother, Noah but they never communicated since. Later, George left Rosewater County and went East. George was blind after being involved in an accident. Later, he married an orphan (Faith Merrihue) who took care of him. Fred did think about killing himself sometimes. Fred loved it when his bride came to thank him for being so nice and for the things he had done

With a simple stroke of the pen, we’ve created sizable estates. That’s the miracle of life insurance. That’s the least we can do for our brides. – Fred Rosewater

Fred practiced ennui now. There were many in the newspapers advertising themselves because they wanted love. When reading, Lila (daughter of his wife’s best friend) appeared. She was a good sailor with Pisquontuit Yacht club. Harry, a fisherman, came to talk to Fred. He used to sell insurance until he nearly died on some chemical and vowed to work outdoors instead. Harry didn’t seem to like insurance. He also didn’t believe in matrimony. Harry filled in the form but filled Fred’s name at the end of the form to know women. Caroline and her lesbian friend, Amanita, liked to hang out. She married thinking Harry was rich but in the end, he was not. To her, money could solve all issues. Fred complained about treating Amanita and supporting his wife, because the meals were expensive. Lila was the daughter of Amanita. Amanita kept wanting to get richer. Later, Lila got dirty pictures because she scoured through the raunchy ads in the American Investigator. Lila hung out with Fred once in a while. Fred had cuts on his legs because his wife didn’t keep dangerous objects out of the way at home. Later, Fred picked up a novel by Kilgore Trout in the library.

Lila admired how some people didn’t have to work very hard and yet were rich. One day, she realized her father Stewart Buntline was asleep. He had 14 million dollars. Stewart didn’t know much about business and was a recipient of a Trust fund. He was represented by the reputable law company that represented Senator Rosewater. Reed McAllister was the partner. McAllister was generally told Stewart about socialism as Stewart didn’t believe in the free enterprise and wanted to give all his money to the poor in the past. Now, Stewart for some reason, believed in free enterprise fully. Stewart didn’t care about sex and misguided pity. McAllister thought that the chronically unemployed were very pitiful and was mankind’s creation. He revealed long ago that some men were born to lead, and that there was a possibility that they didn’t revel in it. Long ago, he said that saints wannabe like Stewart were nothing special. Stewart approached McAllister after his first year at Harvard.

History tells us this, if it tells us nothing else: Giving away a fortune is a futile and destructive thing. It makes whiners of the poor, without making them rich or even comfortable. And the donor and his descendants become undistinguished members of the whining poor. – Reed McAllister

Your fortune is the most important single determinant of what you think of yourself and of what others think of you. Because of your inheritance, you are extraordinary. Without it, for example, you would not now be taking the priceless time of a senior law partner. If you give away your money to the poor, you will become utterly ordinary, unless you happen to be a genius. – Reed McAllister

Without money you’ll surely be less comfortable and free. Not only that, but you will be volunteering your descendants for the muggy, sorehead way of life peculiar to persons who might have been rich and free. – Reed McAllister

People get what they deserve. That’s the First Law of Life. – Bunny Weeks

Money is dehydrated Utopia. ‘That to be born rich and to stay rich is something less than a felony.’ Fred, Caroline Rosewater and Stewart and Amanita Buntline all owned yachts while Harry owned a fishing boat. Harry had two sons who were also fisherman. Caroline was very impressed with Amanita and looked up to her. Bunny hugged Amanita. The senator would be resigning soon and Bunny could never remember Caroline well. Bunny challenged Amanita and Caroline to guess what he bought and they would get the product free if they guessed correctly. Caroline was very thrifty and didn’t want Amanita to buy it for her in the end when they couldn’t guess what it was. Amanita went ahead to buy. Bunny Weeks once owned an expensive restaurant. Harry and his two sons were fishing frantically but were hopeful of a big catch. Harry killed 8 great tuna. The boys smiled and seemed very happy at their feat. Suddenly, Caroline commented that Harry was like a God. Bunny believed that Harry and his sons would go bankrupt some day and that was no need for men to work with their hands and backs as they were not needed by society. He commented that men like Harry were losing.

They made her recite this every morning ‘I do solemnly swear that I will respect the scared private property of others, and that I will be content with whatever station in life God Almighty may assign me to. I will be grateful to those who employ me, and will never complain about wages and hours, but will ask myself instead, “What more can I do for my employer, my republic, and my God?” The verse

I understand that I have not been placed on Earth to be happy. I am here to be tested. If I am to pass the test, I must be always unselfish, always sober, always truthful, always chaste in mind, body, and deed, and always respectful to those whom God has placed above me. – The Verse

Mushari drove to find Fred Rosewater. Fred was sick in bed. He turned out to be on his sailboat. Selena was an orphan who worked for the Buntlines now. Selena wanted to be a nurse. Wilfred Parrot was the head of the orphanage and Selena wrote to him. Selena was often scolded even though she didn’t open her mouth but because in Mrs Buntline eyes, she thought that from her facial expression that Selena was disagreeing with her. Once, Mrs Buntline played Beethoven at 78 revolutions per minute instead of 33 and it still sounded like Beethoven to her. Caroline Rosewater also kept agreeing with her. Selena wanted to speak us but couldn’t as she was scolded. Once, I watched Lila sail. She was a brilliant sailor. During the sailing race, Mrs Buntline yelled like she had rabies and acted all so crazy. You thought that everything in the world depended on the race. Mrs Buntline once took Selena out to view sunset but only waited for her to say ‘Thank you very much’ before she was satisfied. Since then, Selena thanked her for the ocean, the moon, the stars in the sky, and the United States Constitution. Mushari toured the Runfoord Mansion. The thing was that The Rumfoords were still alive, hated the public, but still collected money from entrance fees. The previous founder did this once every 5 years so that he can get a sense of what the ground was like. Lance Rumfoord came and poked fun at Mushari. Caroline was drunk in her room. Fred wanted to kill himself but remembered about Franklin, his son. By accident, Fred chanced upon a pornographic picture that Franklin bought from Lila Buntline. He was in shock. Fred found a historical document about his family in the basement and started to read it. Rosewater was a pseudonym used by the oldest trace back to his roots, James Graham. He was a nobleman who eventually wanted to be a simple farmer. Frederick was John’s son and was the ancestor of Rhode Island Rosewaters. Fred took Caroline down to the basement and he said to her that he was proud of his history and that they used to be somebody. He was fed up that he usually started conversations with ‘Excuse me’, instead of Hello or Goodbye! Caroline liked to agree with people and was dumb in nature. It was when Fred was trying to kill himself that Mushari came in and told him that he stood to inherit a great sum of money. Fred fainted.

What gets me most about these filthy rich people, isn’t how ignorant they are, or how much they drink. It’s the way they have of thinking that everything nice in the world is a gift to the poor people from them or their ancestors. – Selena

So we’re poor! All right, we’re poor! This is America! And America is one place in this sorry world where people shouldn’t have to apologize for being poor. The question in America should be, ‘Is this guy a good citizen? Is he honest? Does he pull his own weight? – Fred Rosewater

It was time for Eliot to meet Sylvia in the Bluebird Room. Many people in Rosewater were sad to see him leave. Delbert Peach was a drunkard who started acting like a dog. He thought that Eliot would not return. Eliot said that he definitely won’t be leaving. Mr Peach swore off liquor as a tribute to Eliot. Eliot was angry when Mary Moody called the fire department and said the fire was in my heart. He blasted Mary for abusing the hotline. She later called the counselling line and was crying. Eliot didn’t know why she was crying. Later, his father visited him. Peach commented that the Senator was rude to him. The senator didn’t really care about America. Dad mentioned that someone was trying to prove that Eliot was insane. Just then, Eliot sounded the fire alarm. It was high noon in Rosewater. Eliot was shocked but he did have doubts on his sanity. His dad wanted to leave Rosewater for good and return home. He thought Eliot was crazy to live in Rosewater, no matter how he wanted to defend himself. Eliot told a story by Trout to his dad and his dad was pissed. In a country, the sole purpose was to eliminate all odors. Instead of creating a chemical that would eliminate all odors, he eliminated noses. Eliot showed his naked body to his dad and later picked up the phone when it rang. The woman on the line felt that others might think Eliot was crazy for paying so much attention to them. Everyone on the county was afraid to see him leave. His dad complained that Eliot smashed every ideal he held, unknowingly. Later, his dad stormed out. The phone rang but Eliot didn’t answer it this time.

You’ll get up there to Indianapolis, with all the excitement and lights and beautiful buildings, and you’ll get a taste of the high life again, and you’ll hunger for more of it, which is only natural for anybody who’s ever tasted the high life the way you have. – Delbert Peach

He couldn’t remember his fight with his father. He entered Chief Charley’s insurance office. Eliot paroled a guy who was now the cleaner. He was Noyes. The man never thanked him but Eliot didn’t need gratitude. His memory was failing him. People knew that he wasn’t okay anymore. A man mentioned that he could tell when a man ‘clicked’. This would mean that he went crazy. He would start doing exactly what his brain told him. Noyes was jealous at Eliot for achieving it. Eliot felt a new phase of his life was beginning. Lincoln Ewald hated money and scorned at America. Eliot couldn’t remember people’s names now. Roland thanked Eliot for saving his life. The ticket lady stamper his ticket to Indianapolis. Now, Eliot read about Kilgore Trout. Diana Moon suddenly appeared. Eliot looked back at Rosewater. He didn’t miss it at all. The outskirts of Indianapolis were destroyed in a fire-storm and Eliot witnessed it.

She cried and said ‘You’re my church group! You’re my everything! You’re my government. You’re my husband. You’re my friends.’ Diana Moon Glampers

Eliot woke up in a dry fountain. He was in a mental hospital now. Eliot kept observing a bird. Four men were in business suits near him. All of them looked sympathetic. There was a lawyer and a doctor. Strangely, Eliot couldn’t recall what he wanted to say. The doctor was not confident that Eliot could prove himself not to be insane. Then in his pocket, Eliot read about the lawyer and his client, Fred Rosewater. Senator actually brought Trout here because Eliot wanted him around. Trout recited to him exactly what must be told in tomorrow’s hearing. How do you love people who have no use? Trout mentioned that firemen were useful when putting out fires. The thing was that the Senator and Trout got along very well. Trout knew that Eliot offered unconditional love to others, without expecting anything in return. 57 women in Rosewater claimed that Eliot was the father of their children. Mushari went around town and persuaded others to say bad stuff about Eliot. Suddenly, Eliot managed to recall some stuff and he wanted to write checks. There were 3.5 million dollars and Eliot gave 100k to Fred, his cousin. As for the remaining money, Eliot told his lawyer to give them to the children of Rosewater County. On the last note, Eliot said ‘And tell them, to be fruitful and multiply’.

In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in different areas. So if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, rub them out. – Kilgore Trout

Americans have long been taught to hate all people who will not or cannot work, to hate even themselves for that. We can thank the vanished frontier for that piece of common-sense cruelty. – Kilgore Trout

Poverty is a relatively mild disease for even a very flimsy American soul, but uselessness will kill strong and weak souls alike, and kill every time. – Kilgore Trout

Firemen rush to the rescue of any human being, and count not the cost. The most contemptible man in town, should his contemptible house catch fire, will see the fireman put the fire out and he will be comforted and pitied by the Fire Chief. There we have people treasuring people as people. It’s extremely rare. So from this we must learn. – Kilgore Trout



One thought on “God Bless You, Mr Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

  1. The Angel
    that presided
    o’er my
    birth said,
    “Little creature
    form’d of
    Joy & Mirth,
    Go love
    without the
    help of
    any Thing
    on Earth.”

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