The jeweler in the cocktail lounge of the new Holiday Inn. When he sees Mary Alice Miller walk through, he despises her "sexlessness and innocence and empty mind" and says, "Pure tuna fish!"
The driver of the Ford Galaxie in which Kilgore Trout hitchhikes. He is a thirty-two year old, white, overweight traveling salesman, "obviously a happy man" and a crazy driver. He has averaged twenty-two orgasms per month over the past year, "far above the national average."
Bill is Kilgore Trout's parakeet. Trout thinks that Bill will die a few moments before he does, and confides in Bill that humanity deserves to die horribly.
In Chapter 3, there is an important interaction between Trout and Bill, in which Trout opens the parakeet's cage so Bill can fly to the window. Bill puts his shoulder against the glass, but when Trout opens the window, Bill is scared and flies back into his cage.
The Gothic novelist who attends the arts festival in Midland City. In Chapter 18, she is introduced as she enters the new Holiday Inn cocktail lounge with Rabo Karabekian. She grew up in Midland City, and says she was "petrified of coming home after all these years."
Dwayne Hoover breaks her jaw during his rampage.
The white cocktail waitress who serves Dwayne Hoover at the new Holiday Inn cocktail lounge. They are longtime acquaintances, and they have bought nine Pontiacs from him over the past sixteen years. Bonnie makes the same joke every time she serves a customer a martini: "Breakfast of Champions." She wears "octagonal, rimless trifocals," and is "a horse-faced woman forty-two years old."
Her two goals in life are to earn back all the money her husband lost by investing in a car wash, and to get steel-belted radial tires for the front wheels of her car.
The narrator offers to tell her fortune, but she refuses. He reveals to the reader that her fortune is:
You will be swindled by termite exterminators and not even know it. You will buy steel-belted radial tires for teh front wheels of your car. Your cat will be killd by a motorcyclist named Headley Thomas, and you will get another car. Arthur, your brother in Atlanta, will find eleven dollars in a taxicab.
The inclusion of these details in her fortune foreshadows the idea that is explained later in Chapter 19, that no detail is more important than any other.
Dwayne Hoover's homosexual son, who plays the piano in the cocktail lounge of the new Holiday Inn. His real name is George. He only eats raw fruits and vegetables, avoids the sunshine, and has no "friends or lovers or pets." He lives on Skid Row, and his window looks out to the old Opera House. He practices Transcendental Meditation, which he learned from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It allows him to remove himself mentally while he is playing the piano. When he told his father he wished he were a woman, he was sent away to military school when he was only 10 years old. There he had "eight years of uninterrupted sports, buggery and Fascism."
The narrator reveals that his fortune is:
Your father will become extremely ill, and you will respond so grotesquely that there will be talk of putting you in the booby hatch, too. You will stage scenes in the hospital waiting room, telling doctors and nurses that you are to blame for your father's disease. You will blame yourself for trying for so many years to kill him with hatred. You will redirect your hatred. You will hate your mom.
This is the only instance in which Bunny's future, beyond the realm of the story, is revealed to the reader.
During his rampage, Dwayne Hoover, his father, slams his head again and again onto the piano keys, leaving his face unrecognizable "even as a face - anybody's face."
Dwayne's wife, who has committed suicide by eating Drano. The description of her death uses the theme of humans as machines: "Celia became a small volcano, since she was composed of the same sorts of substances which commonly clogged drains."
She is likened to the narrator's mother in Chapter 16, because both are "crazy as a bedbug," "beautiful in exotic ways," and both committed suicide. Also, neither woman could stand to have her picture taken.
The black intern at the County Hospital. He earned a medical degree at Harvard and has been in Midland City for a week. He is an Indaro, a Nigerian, an identity trait that is emphasized each time he is mentioned in the story. He is pointedly different from American blacks, since his relatives were not slaves and he feels "kinship only with Indaros."
We are first introduced to him in Chapter 6, because he is the only person with Mary Young while she dies. He is staying in the new Holiday Inn, owned in part by Dwayne Hoover, until he can find a cheap apartment in which to live. He also needs a woman, because he is "so full of lust and jism all the time." In Chapter 11 we learn that though he appears impassive, "behind his mask was a young man in the terminal stages of nostalgia and lover's nuts."
A character in one of Trout's novels. He is a scientist who discovers a way to reproduce himself by mixing cells from his right hand with chicken soup. He hoped to "force his country into making laws against excessively large families," but instead, after he fathers hundreds and hundreds of children, America passes laws against "possession by unmarried persons of chicken soup."
A gas-conversion unit installer, and the only person whom Dwayne hurt who deserved it, according to the narrator. He raped Patty Keene in the parking lot of George Hickman Bannister Memorial Fieldhouse.
Dwayne once sold him a Pontiac Ventura, and had made adjustments and replaced parts because it wouldn't run right. But Breedlove had painted, "This Car is a Lemon" all over the car. It turned out a neighborhood kid had poured maple syrup in its gas tank.
He had been repairing a defective gas oven in the kitchen of the new Holiday Inn during Dwayne's rampage. Dwayne offers Breedlove his hand, and they shake; while Breedlove is led to believe Dwayne is making a motion of friendship, Dwayne boxes him in the ear, causing him to go deaf.
Mary Alice Miller's father, who taught her to swim when she was eight months old and forced her to swim for at least four hours every day since the age of three. At the time Dwayne Hoover bursts outside after attacking three people in the new Holiday Inn cocktail lounge, Don Miller is lying in his car with the seat back flat, learning French on audio tape.
A "fabulously well-to-do" Pontiac dealer, Hoover is also a "novice lunatic." A combination of drug abuse and powerful ideas has brought him to the brink of madness. He reads Trout's science-fiction and interprets it literally, believing that everyone else in the world is a robot.
Dwayne was adopted, and his birth parents are described as machines in Chapter 3: "Dwayne's real mother was a spinster school teacher who wrote sentimental poetry and claimed to be descended from Richard the Lion-Hearted, who was a king. His real father was an itinerant typesetter... She was defective child-bearing machine. She destroyed herself automatically while giving birth to Dwayne. The printer disappeared. He was a disappearing machine." It is important to note that both Dwayne's birth mother and his adoptive mother are described as destroying themselves, one in childbirth and the other with pills. The speaker's mother killed herself, as well.
We find out in Chapter 13 that he was adopted by people who thought they couldn't have children, but who later did give birth to the twins Lyle and Kyle.
The driver of The Martha Simmons Memorial Mobile Disaster Unit when it picks up Dwayne Hoover and his victims. He is a young, black, direct descendant of Francis Scott Key, and knows all about his personal ancestry as he was the chosen member of his generation to memorize the family history.
He can be seen as representing the history of America as it interacts with the future, including all races since his ancestors are white, black, and "Indians." As he drives the emergency vehicle, he has "the feeling that he himself was a vehicle, and that his eyes were windshields through which his progenitors could look, if they wished to." In case Francis Scott Key is looking through at what has become of America, Eddie focuses his eyes on the American flag stuck to the windshield and murmurs, "Still wavin', man."
A black male dishwasher at the new Holiday Inn cocktail lounge. He recognizes Wayne Hoobler outside near the trashcans, because he too has spent time in the Adult Correctional Institution. He brings Wayne inside, gives him a meal, and shows him the peephole through which the black dishwashers watch the white customers in the cocktail lounge.
The eccentric millionaire who spent $18,000 tracking down Trout so he can send him a fan letter. He leverages his El Greco painting in an agreement with Fred T. Barry, to ensure that Trout will be invited to the arts festival.
He accidentally killed his mother in a boating accident when he was young. The narrator tells us, "I made Rosewater an alcoholic in another book," but now he is sobered up thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous. He has been having orgies with strangers in New York City.
Dwayne's secretary and mistress. She is described in Chapter 13 as "a war widow with lips like sofa pillows and bright red hair," and in Chapter 15 as a "generous, voluptuous woman." She is in love with Dwayne, and tells him so in Chapter 15 even though they have made a pact not to speak about love.
Her husband, Robert Pefko, died in Viet Nam. She had followed him to Midland City, where he worked on the manufacture of a new "booby trap" to be used in the military.
Fred T. Barry
The chairman of the arts festival in Midland City, who sends the invitation to Kilgore Trout. The two men are exactly the same age. As Fred T. Barry grew older and happier, he came to resemble "an ecstatic old Chinaman" more and more. He even starts dressing like a Chinaman.
The white cashier in the Service Department, who covers "The Nerve Center" (Francine Pefko's desk) while Francine escapes to have sex with Dwayne Hoover. She is twenty-five and has just had a hysterectomy after a botched abortion. The father of the "destroyed fetus" was Don Breedlove, the same man who had raped Patty Keene.
Harold Newcomb Wilbur
The bartender in the new Holiday Inn cocktail lounge. He is the second most decorated veteran in Midland City. When he stares at the narrator, the narrator decides to have him receive a phone call from Ned Lingamon in prison.
Dwayne's sales manager at the Pontiac agency. He is the first person to notice Dwayne's strange behavior. He is also a closeted transvestite, and worries that Dwayne knows his secret because of implications he invents in Dwayne's meaningless rants.
He is well-to-do because he invested wisely in the stock market, specifically in Xerox. He and his wife Grace move to Maui after he erroneously worries that he will be fired for being discovered as a transvestite.
The Doberman pinscher that attacks the narrator in the Epilogue. He has been taught that "the Creator of the Universe wanted him to kill anything he could catch, and eat it, too." Ironically, he ends up attacking the Creator of the Universe, the narrator, as he loiters in front of the fence behind which the dog is kept.
Cyprian Ukwende's Bengali assistant, who is unhelpful on Martha. He refuses to find shears to cut off Dwayne Hoover's shoes, which are coated in plastic from Sugar Creek. He cannot tolerate criticism, and he has just been criticized for amputating a black man's foot when the foot probably could have been saved.
Trout is a science-fiction writer, a "nobody" who owns "doodley-squat." He feels as if he has no impact on the world, and is introduced in Chapter 1 as supposing, or hoping, he is dead. He works as an installer of aluminum combination storm windows and screens, and at first nobody knows he is a writer. He is described in Chapter 2 as having no charm.
He will win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979.
Trout has been married three times, as we find out in his Chapter 12 conversation with the Pyramid truck driver. Each of his wifes had been "extraordinarily patient and loving and beautiful. Each had been shriveled by his pessimism." He also has only one son, who left home at the age of 14, and from whom Trout has never heard again. Trout does know that he deserted in Viet Nam and joined the Viet Cong.
The narrator tells us that, "Trout was the only character I ever created who had enough imagination to suspect that he might be the creation of another human being."
Dwayne's black servant. She was descended from slaves. She and Dwayne like each other, but they don't talk much.
Lyle and Kyle Hoover
Dwayne Hoover's younger stepbrothers who own Sacred Miracle Cave. They live in identical yellow ranch houses on either side of the gift shop. The only difference in their appearances is that Lyle had his nose broken at the Roller Derby in 1954.
They are exceedingly worried about the fate of the Sacred Miracle Cave, since stinky bubbles the size of ping-pong balls have been floating up from the polluted stream that runs through it.
Mary Alice Miller
The fifteen-year-old Women's Two Hundred Meter Breast Stroke Champion of the World. She is the only internationally famous person in Midland City, and is the Queen of the Festival of the Arts. Her father taught her to swim when she was eight months old, and made her swim at least four hours every day since she was three. When Bonnie MacMahon tells Robo Karabekian Mary Alice's story, he insults her and causes the spiritual climax of the book.
Her eyes are permanently inflamed, and her father, Don Miller, is Chairman of the Parole Board at Shepherdstown.
The manager of the pornographic movie house in Chapters 7 and 8 is also the ticket-taker, bouncer, and janitor. He is attacked by what comes to be known as The Pluto Gang along with Kilgore Trout on Forty-second Street. He says "God bless you" when Trout happens to sneeze, and they form a temporary friendship that lasts until they are attacked. He has a wife and two kids who don't know that he runs a pornographic theater. He was in on the development of "a miraculous insulating material," which is the same material of which Dwayne Hoover's house is made.
The oldest inhabitant of Midland City, who is dying in the County Hospital in Chapter 6. Her parents had been slaves in Kentucky. She is black, and she used to do the laundry for Dwayne's family. The only person with her while she dies is Cyprian Ukwende.
The beautiful young desk clerk at the new Holiday Inn, and also the homosexual grandson of Guillermo "Little Willie" Maritimo, a "bodyguard of the notorious Chicago gangster, Al Capone. He is also the nephew of the partners in the Maritimo Brothers Construction Company, which is polluting Sugar Creek.
He has read all of Kilgore Trout's work, which he borrowed from the personal library of Eliot Rosewater, and gives Trout a surprisingly welcome greeting upon his arrival to the hotel.
The narrator inserts himself into the story. He discusses how he invented each of the characters, and how he is constantly deciding what happens to them.
He suspects that he has schizophrenia, although he is not certain. What he does know is that, "I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed." This vague description is perhaps provided by Vonnegut in order to point to the more obvious symptom the narrator exhibits: interacting with characters in a fictional universe.
The most decorated veteran in Midland City. He calls Harold Newcomb Wilbur from prison, where he is because he killed his own baby. His dead baby's name was Cynthia Anne, and he killed her because she wouldn't stop crying.
A County Commissioner of Public Safety, after whose wife the Martha Simmons Memorial Mobile Disaster Unit is named. His wife died of rabies after being bitten by a bat she was trying to save. He and Dwayne were "drawn together for a while," because their wifes had died strange deaths within a month of each other. Their friendship petered out, but they still exchange Christmas cards.
Dwayne's waitress at the Burger Chef in Chapter 15, who believes she can convince Dwayne to help her financially. She is a seventeen-year-old white girl, with blond hair and blue eyes, working to pay off the hospital bills accrued by her father as he died of colon cancer.
She was raped by Don Breedlove, but never reported it to the police because she was preoccupied with her father's illness at the time.
In the Preface, Vonnegut dedicates Breakfast of Champions to Phoebe Hurty. She is impolite in a graceful way, a quality which Vonnegut says he tries to imitate. She represents the belief in a new American paradise that would come with prosperity after the Great Depression.
The Pyramid truck driver
The driver of the Pyramid truck that picks up Trout at the mouth of the Lincoln tunnel. His interactions with Trout point to themes of the story, such as his opinion about the destruction of the planet. His brother works in a factory making chemicals for killing plants and trees in Viet Nam. The driver points out that "the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way," meaning that most jobs destroy the planet, and consequently humankind.
The minimal painter who attends the arts festival in Midland City. His painting, entitled The Temptation of Saint Anthony, was the first purchase for the permanent collection of the Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts, and cost $50,000.
He is, in the narrator's opinion, "a vain and weak and trashy man." This is perhaps because his opinion that all living things are beams of light, expressed in his painting, is so contrary to the narrator's conviction that humans are machines.
Sparky is Dwayne Hoover's Labrador retriever. Because of a car accident in the past, he cannot wag his tail. Unfortunately, this means other dogs don't know how friendly he is, and he has to fight all the time.
A white mechanic at Dwayne's Pontiac agency. His wife, Mary, is a schizophrenic who believes that Vernon is trying to turn her brains into plutonium. Dwayne's previously philanthropic nature is exemplified in a conversation he had with Vernon, in which he shows concern for Vernon's wife's health.
Wayne Hoobler is introduced in Chapter 11. He has just been paroled from the Adult Correctional Institution at Shepherdstown, and feels as though he's free for the first time in his life, since he has always been kept in "orphanages and youth shelters and prisons of one sort or another." He believes that the planet is terrible, and feels like he doesn't belong on it since he has no friends or relatives, and is always being put in cages.
He comes looking for Dwayne Hoover because he has seen advertisements for the Pontiac dealership and he wants to work there. His idea of an ideal world is called Fairyland, a place he sees in his dreams. The speaker points out how childish the name is. He believes that working for Dwayne will help him achieve that Fairyland.
He misses prison, since now that he is free he doesn't know what to do with himself. This is similar to what happened to Bill, Trout's bird, when he freed it from its cage and it decided to hop back inside because it was afraid of what was beyond the window. This connection builds upon the theme of race, with black people being viewed as animals thanks to the society in which they have been brought up.
Wayne also has excellent, white teeth, thanks to the superb dental program available to prisoners at the Adult Correctional Institution at Shepherdstown.
Breakfast of Champions Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Breakfast of Champions is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
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,...