Night Mother by Kurt Vonnegut

Category: Mother, Night
Last Updated: 25 May 2023
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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 makes you step back and think. You could almost tell this book, 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 woman,  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 does that in a way seem understandable when you think about all he did 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 got himself into. I think he knows 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. Mengel says to me this morning, 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. He must suffer for all that he has deposited on to the streets of New York, restored to the mainstream of life. I took several steps down the sidewalk when something happened. It was not guilt that froze me; I had taught myself never to feel guilt. It wasn't the fear of death; I had taught myself to think of death as a friend. It was not the thought of being unloved that froze me; I had taught myself to do without love. What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.

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Now even that flickered out. What a lonely life that must be, to feel you have nothing to live for. To know that all that has kept you going in the past was curiosity. Helga is dead, (or so he assumes) Resi is dead, the man he called his best friend had intentions of betraying him for so long, and now he is gone. People hate him, want to kill him, others think he is dead and is glad, and then there are those that admire him for all the terrible things he has done. Though he can even seem to feel proud because unlike so many others who committed such crimes as his, he is not a sociopath.

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Night Mother by Kurt Vonnegut. (2017, Jan 31). Retrieved from

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