Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan: Page by Page, Chapter by Chapter Review: Chapter 2, Cheers in the Wirehouse

Plot Summary

  • Constant flees his meeting in a helicopter, having used an alias – “Jonah” to escape detection.
  • Constant sells his shares in The Whale, which Beatrice buys – both unknowingly, both in an attempt to avoid their fate.
  • Rumfoord appears again, 59 days later, to speak with his wife who is now penniless – Malachi Constant is also now penniless, as informed by the CEO of his company, Ransom K. Fern.
  • Beatrice Rumfoord tells her husband she will not participate in this rollercoaster; he says he too is on a rollercoaster as he insubstantiates.
  • As Rumfoord vanishes he talks about how he has been used.

Page 41 – Start

“Wasn’t you scared, suh?” said the chauffer. Page 41

“It hardly helps to panic, do you think?” he said. Page 42

“Until that moment of truth, Constant had looked upon his Newport adventure as one more drug-induced hallucination – as one more peyotl party – vivid, novel, entertaining, and of no consequence whatsoever.” Page 42 – Constnat reflects that he has a guardian angel, that he had no fear in the midst of the crowd.

“He had been claim in the midst of the mob because he knew he wasn’t going to die on Earth.” Page 43

“What had Rumfoord been so cheerful about?” Page 43. How is Rumfoord playing to Constant’s ego?

***Chapter 2, Break 1 – Page 43 ***

“He was wondering if there could possibly be eyes up there, eyes that could see everything he did. And if there were eyes up there, and they wanted him to do certain things, go certain places – how could they make him?” Constant, under the alias of Jonah, foreshadows the Tralfamadorian role in the novel as he gets into his helicopter.

His alias is Jonah, he owns The Whale – the spaceship – there are many biblical references for Malachi.

***Chapter 2, Break 2 – Page 44 ***

There are eight paragraphs in this section, one of which is an epistolary. Six of those paragraphs start with, “For one [another] thing, …”

“Hello from sunny California, Space Baby!” Malachi Constant to Beatrice Rumfoord (pg 45)

Malachi is writing her mean notes, to try to prevent his future from happening.

“For another thing, Malachi Constant had thrown a party two days after returning to Hollywood – and only now, fifty-six days later, was it petering out.” Pg 45

***Chapter 2, Break 3 – Page 46 ***

“The million-year period to which the burned junk related would be summed up in history books in one sentence, according to Koradubian: Following the death of Jesus Christ, there was a period of readjustment that lasted for approximately one million years.” Pg 46 The false story of Koradubian’s account of the meeting between him and WN Rumfoord’s apparition.

“Guess how long the human race will be around,” said Rumfoord. Pg 46

“You’re a member of it, you know,” said Rumfoord.

***Chapter 2, Break 4 – Page 49 ***

“How much more pitiful it is when the person who falls has had all the advantages!” Constant, reflecting on his situation. Page 49

“The swimming pool looked less like a facility for sport than like a punchbowl in hell.” Pg 50

“He says you better come in and talk to him before he goes home.” She laughed. “He says you’re broke.” Page 51. Constant’s blonde assistant telling him that his CEO, Ransom K. Fern, is quitting.

***Chapter 2, Break 5 – Page 51 ***

“I would like to find out if a chron-synclastic infundibula kills love in a dog the way it kills love in a man.” Beatrice to Moncrief The Butler and Winston Niles Rumfoord. Page 51

“Rumfoord’s hands worked in air, unhappily trying on various lines of argument for size.” Page 52

“You’re saying you hav eno character, and no sense of responsibility towards me,” said Beatrice. I”i’m sorry to put it that way, but it’s the truth.” Beatrice to Rumfoord Page 52

“Rumfoord had known that Constant would try to debase the picture by using it in commerce.” Page 53, after MoonMist cigarette ads feature an image of the sirens of Titan – white, golden and brown.

“It was the free-enterprise way of handling beauty that threatened to get the upper hand.” Page 53, on tactics used to control images and society.

“The compassion he approached was for Malachi Constant, who was having a far worse time of it than Beatrice.” Page 53

“Rebuttal – a punctual word if there ever was one,” said Rumfoord. “I say this and then you rebut me, then I rebut you, then somebody else comes in and rebuts us both.” He shuttered, “What a nightmare where everybody gets in line to rebut each other.” Page 54

“I didn’t design the roller coaster, I don’t own it, and I don’t say who rides and who doesn’t. I just know what it’s shaped like.” Rumfoord to his wife, Beatrice. Page 54

“It is worth stopping the narrative at this point to say that this cock-and-bull story told to Beatrice is one of the few known instances of Winston Niles Rumfoord’s having told a lie.” Page 55

“Some of the President’s comments at the time bear repeating – and it should be remembered that the President gave the word “progress” a special flavor by pronouncing it prog-erse. He also flavored the words “chair” and “warehouse,” pronouncing them cheer and wirehouse.” Page 55 – 56 This pronunciation is the source of the Chapter Title.

“Meanwhile, why don’t you forget about all those cheers in the wirehouse and think about progerse in space?” The President to a Chair Manufacturer who has over produced, Page 56.

“We could build and fire rockets, forever and never fill up space and never learn all there is to know about it.” The President, page 57

“And besides,’ I tell them and I tell you and I tell everybody, ‘we don’t have to put people in the rocket ships. We will use the lower animals only.'” – The President, Page 57

***Chapter 2, Break 6 – Page 57 ***

“He asked her one of the standard questions for times of violent change. “Where is everybody?” he said.” Page 57

“‘Half the time nobody could understand you, but every time somebody could understand you, it was about how there was never any kind of ball.” Page 58 The blonde wife of Malachi Constant.

“You better go down to the office and find out what the hell is going on,

***Chapter 2, Break 7 – Page 59 ***

“I know a little something about rollercoasters, too,” Beatrice said. Page 59

“That’s the way to treat rollercoasters,” she said. Page 60. As a child Beatrice’s father took her to a roller coaster, she didn’t like the looks of it, and she refused to get on.

“Some day on Titan, it will be revealed to you just how ruthlessly I’ve been used, and by whom, and to what disgustingly paltry ends.” Page 60 – 61. Rumfoord to his wife, foreshadowing the Tralfamadorian plot behind the events that shape the rest of their lives.

Page 60 – End Chapter

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