Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions Summary and Analysis of Chapters 9-12


Dwayne Hoover comes down from the roof of the new Holiday Inn to ask for a room. He gets in line behind Cyprian Ukwende, who was staying at the Inn until he found an apartment. Dwayne waits in line, even though he owns the hotel, and then enters his room. He adores it because it is "so new and cool and clean." He feels accomplished for having "delivered himself to an irreproachable container for a human being." He finds comfort in this anonymity, and explores the different amenities of the room. Then he sleeps like a lamb.

Chapter 10 returns to Kilgore Trout, who is released by the police and gets a ride from a truck. The driver is white, and says he used to be a hunter and fisherman. Trout responds by saying that he, too, used to be a conservationist, before he realized that "God wasn't any conservationist, so for anybody else to be one was sacrilegious and a waste of time." The driver is impressed. They talk about Vietnam and suicide, but then the driver becomes annoyed with Trout because he can't tell if he's being serious or not. To pass the time, Trout makes up a story called "Gilgongo!" about a planet in which there is too much creation going on. The driver brings up politics, and Trout has no interest in politicians. He had once written a story about a chimpanzee who became President of the United States.

The driver and Trout stop the eat, and when the driver says "Excuse me, I've got to take a leak," Trout uses his joke that where he comes from in Bermuda, mirrors are called leaks. The driver will tell his wife about it.

Trout then notices that the truck he has been riding in says PYRAMID in huge letters on the side. He sees it through the eyes of a child, and decides it must be very important because it was written so big. He does the same for another truck, whose side reads AJAX. These observations will be tied to the theme of mindless advertising later.

In Chapter 11, Dwayne Hoover has slept until 10am in the new Holiday Inn, and feels refreshed. He eats breakfast in the restaurant of the Inn, at the table over from Cyprian Ukwende. He looks out at the flat land - "flat city, flat township, flat county, flat state," and thinks about Sugar Creek.

Then he ventures outside, suspecting that he might be cured from his mental disease. But as soon as he steps outside, he feels like the asphalt of he Pontiac agency has turned into a kind of trampoline, sinking beneath his weight. He sees a young black man named Wayne Hoobler, a parolee from prison. Wayne Hoobler is "burnishing" one of the cars on Dwayne Hoover's used car lot, trying to make a good impression because he wants to work for Dwayne. But Dwayne just shakes his head vaguely and walks inside to the showroom.

The showroom is decorated for Hawaiian week, but Dwayne is confused because he forgets about the themed week. He sees Harry LeSabre wearing a ridiculous Hawaiian costume, since the previous week Dwayne had berated him for his plain clothing. Harry and his wife have been debating whether or not Dwayne suspects that he is a transvestite, and they have come to the conclusion that Dwayne cannot know. Harry approaches Dwayne now, "rosy with fear and excitement," and says "Aloha."

Chapter 12 returns to Trout, who is still in the Pyramid truck, crossing into Philadelphia. The driver and Trout talk about how neither of them is a veteran, and then the driver confides that he has no friends because he's always on the road. He wants it to be true that Trout has "a rich social life so that he could enjoy it vicariously," but Trout just shrugs. He has forgotten the driver's name.

Now Vonnegut uses the first-person speaker again, in the technique of direct address. He tells us, "Trout had a mental defect which I, too, used to suffer from. He couldn't remember what different people in his life looked like - unless their bodies or faces were strikingly unusual." For example, the only person he calls by name in his hometown of Cohoes is Durling Heath, a "red-headed Cockney midget" who works in a shoe repair shop.

The driver continues to talk about how lonesome life on the road is, and concludes that, "That's probably the story of my life: not enough determination." They talk about Perma-Stone, a colored cement that is plastered on houses to make them look as if they are made of stone. Trout's company sells it, and they talk about it as if they are on a commercial. This exchange demonstrates how much commercial advertising has permeated life.

Trout now asks the driver why the company is called Pyramid. He thinks it doesn't make sense, since the truck moves quickly and pyramids don't move at all. Trout is very confused by this naming. The driver responds, "He liked the sound of it. Don't you like the sound of it?" Trout agrees just "to keep things friendly," then creates a little story in his head. It is about a planet where the creatures were so "enchanted by sounds" that the language kept turning into music.

The driver asks about Trout's family, and Trout's characterization is furthered for the reader through this conversation. We discover that Trout has been married three times, and that he has one son, Leo, who left home at the age of fourteen and has not contacted Kilgore since. Then Kilgore had heard that Leo had deserted in Viet Nam and joined the Viet Cong.


Many salient themes are touched upon in these chapters. In Chapter 10, the driver of the Pyramid truck makes the point that "the planet was being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what was being manufactured was lousy, by and large." This point of view implies a dismal future for the planet as a result of all the damage humans are inflicting on it.

Trout's stories emerge here as allegories, refracting Vonnegut's favorite themes through the prism of Trout's own eccentric imagination. This in a sense allows Vonnegut more free rein, at least in formal terms. The story that Trout makes up to pass the time, "Gilgongo!," is about a planet in which there is too much creation going on. It addresses the theme of overpopulation, which has been explored in Trout's other story, "This Means You," in Chapter 8. The story Trout remembers writing about the chimpanzee leads us down a different road: Vonnegut seems to be positing that sometimes the president is so useless, and fails so miserably at solving the problems that plague Americans, it would be just the same if he were a chimpanzee. Again, Trout's stories use hyperbole to express a point.

The theme of mirrors as "leaks" between universes resurfaces when Trout tells the driver that where he comes from in Bermuda, mirrors are called "leaks." This passing of false information once again demonstrates the ability of ideas to spread like disease. Though of course, thinking a mirror is called a leak in Bermuda is not a damaging idea, and not disease itself, this spreading of false information demonstrates the theme.

When Trout asks the driver why the truck company is called Pyramid, the driver responds that the person who named it "liked the sound of it. Don't you like the sound of it?" This question, as well as the following story Trout makes up about a planet where the creatures were so "enchanted by sounds" that the language kept turning into music, hints at the theme of advertising. In the story, the creatures' enchantment with sounds was a problem since the music was useless as a conveyor of information, so the leaders had to keep inventing "new and much uglier vocabularies and sentence structures all the time, which would resist being transmuted to music." This story hearkens back to the advertisements that were "like lullabyes" to Dwayne Hoover's ears in Chapter 4. It is a significant character trait that the advertisements are music to Dwayne's ears, while Trout cannot understand "liking the sound" of something as justification for a ridiculous name of a company.

The relationship between Trout and his son, Leo, is comparable to that between Dwayne and his son, Bunny, in that both are estranged. Trout tells the truck driver that his son joined the Viet Cong; this seemingly ridiculous event ties into the theme of Communism. The Viet Cong is a Communist group, so it is fitting that Trout's offspring should join it: Trout himself has "doodley-squat," and his son joins a movement that believes all things should be shared. Interestingly, Leo Trout is the narrator of another of Vonnegut's books, Galapagos.