chapter 8 analysis
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In the first chapter, the United States is introduced as important because it is the country in which Hoover and Trout live. Its citizens are described as "so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made." Vonnegut cites the national anthem, which is "gibberish sprinkled with question marks," the law against flag-dipping, and the motto "E pluribus unum" as factors that exacerbate the "nonsense" that makes America unique.
This disenchantment is explored in the character of the Pyramid truck driver, who posits that "the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way." He comes to this conclusion since his own job causes pollution and requires roads to be built; in this way, the destruction of the planet is inextricably linked to the destruction of humankind. And since we are the ones destroying the planet, we are destroying ourselves.