Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan: Page by Page, Chapter by Chapter Review: Chapter 7 – Victory

Summary of the Summary

The Martian Army’s invasion is inept, and they are defeated by the overwhelming violence and arsenal of the Earthlings. The reader learns more of the origins of the war, how Winston Niles Rumfoord financed it with his butler, Moncrief, and how the Tralfamadorean Salo gave him the designs for spaceships and half of his Universal Will to Become to power them. Rumfoord uses Earthling guilt at the force of their victory to create a new religion, The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent. Unk destroys Boaz’s mind control device after they are stranded on Mars, and Bee and Chrono are stranded in the Amazon – some of the few survivors of the botched invasion.

Themes of the Book – Deep Ideas

Vonnegut, in his first published work, is not shy about going after big topics and big ideas. So far he has tackled the following concepts:

  • Free will
  • Mind control – Direct, memory wiping
  • Manipulation of the masses – creation of a new religion (page 176)
  • Sacrifice for the greater good – Mars
  • Profiteering – deliberate and through willful ignorance (page 176)
  • Creation of a New Religion
  • The Nature of God
  • The Nature of Luck
  • Parenthood – in the relationship between Chrono and Unk

Chapter 7 Summary – Victory

  • Winston Niles Rumfoord wrote the definitive history of the 67 day long Earth-Mars war, where Mars was devastated and all of the nearly 200,000 Martians went to invade the Earth.
  • The Martian troops losses are amusing in their hopelessness – they conquer the moon and are nuked, they announce their main force is coming and they too are nuked, everywhere ships land the Martians lose to the violence of Earth.
  • This is all part of Winston Niles Rumfoord’s plan – he has financed this war using his butler, Moncrief as the minister, and benefitted from the gifting of technology from Salo, the Tralfamadorean on Titan with WNR, who donates 50% of his supply of Universal Will to Become (“UWTB”).
  • WNR has a special plan for Bee and Chrono – who are the only survivors of their spaceship’s crash in the Amazon. Likewise, Boaz and Unk are sent to Mercury.
  • In all the Martian ineptness, their ships are designed to be ‘simple’ to fly with only an ‘On’ and ‘Off’ button, as Boaz says late in the chapter, “Who’s flying this fool thing?”
  • Rumfoord appears in Newport and declares a new religion, The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, and as his first parable describes the ‘lucky’ birth of Malachi Constant.
  • The chapter closes with Boaz, reflecting that he needs a friend, and questioning his personal motives, telling Unk that it is okay that Unk broke his mind control device.

Start – Page 167

“The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.” Page 167

“It has been said that Earthling civilization, so far, has created ten thousand wars, but only three intelligent commentaries on war – the commentaries of Thucydides, of Julius Caesar and of Winston Niles Rumfoord.” Page 167

“Winston Niles Rumfoord chose 75,000 words so well for his Pocket History of Mars that nothing remains to be said, or to be said better, about the war between Earth and Mars.” Page 167

“Anyone who finds himself obliged, in the course of a history, to describe the war between Earth and Mars is humbled by the realization that the tale has already been told to glorious perfection by Rumfoord.” Page 167

Breaks 1 – Page 168

Casualties from the 67 day long Earth-Mars War:
Killed 149,315 – Mars vs 461 Earth
Wounded: 446 Mars vs 223 Earth
Captured: 11 Mars vs 0 Earth
Missing: 46,632 Mars vs 216 Earth

“At the end of the war, every Martian had been killed, wounded, captured, or been found missing.” Page 168

“The last waves of Martians to attack Earth were, to the horror of the Earthlings who pot-shotted them, old men, women, and a few little children.” Page 168

Breaks 2 – Page 168

“It was frequently the case, however, that the troops lost their real commanders, either in the air or on the ground.” Page 168 – The negative impact of mind control on troop effectiveness.

“Their biggest trouble, however, was that they were scarcely better armed than a big-city police department.” Page 169 – Foreshadowed with the antiquated contents of the armories.

“The on button simply started a flight to Mars. The off button was connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of Martian mental-health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.” Page 169

“This taste, to Earth’s considerable amusement, turned out to be a very light shower of rockets carrying twelve pounds apiece of TNT.” Page 170, Mars’s ‘Taste of Hell’

“Earth thought otherwise.” Page 170

“These hits not only vaporized the bridgehead – they rendered the moon unfit for human occupation for at least ten million years.” Page 170

“The actual number of rockets fired is of little interest when one can express the power of that barrage in another way, in a way that happens to be both poetry and truth. The barrage turned the skies of Earth from heavenly blue to a hellish burnt orange. The skies remained burnt orange for a year and a half.” Page 171 – The Martian main force broadcasts their lead time to arrival at 32 days – and they are intercepted with 2.5 million nuclear rockets.

“But the electronic pilot-navigators of the ships had other ideas.” Page 171 – the simple ships are an Achilles’ heal.

“A single, badly scorched man named Krishna Garu attacked all of India with a double-barreled shotgun.” Page 171

“The only Martian military success was the capture of a meat market in Basel, Switzerland, by seventeen Parachute Ski Marines.” Page 171

“Without Boaz, their real commander, to radio-control them, they fought listlessly, to say the least.” Page 172 – Unk’s old unit loses the battle of Boca Raton.

“The last of the Martians were coming in three waves.” Page 173 – they are committed to a foolish assault, it is the charge of the light brigade for an entire society.

Break 3 – Page 174

“The elaborate suicide of Mars was financed by capital gains on investments in land, securities, Broadway shows, and inventions.” Page 174

Break 4 – Page 175

“Salo was a messenger from the planet Tralfamadore in the Small Magellanic Cloud.” Page 175

Salo donates half of his Universal Will to Become – UWTB – to the Martian Army.

Break 5 – Page 175

“Earl Moncrief, the butler, built his financial procurement, and secret organizations with the brute pwoer of cash and a profound understanding of clever, malicious, discontented people who lived behind servile facades.” Page 175

“They were grateful for the opportunity to work like termites on the sills of the established order.” Page 175

“The manufacturers had no idea what the components were for. They knew only that the profits on making them were fine.” Page 176

Break 6 – Page 176

“As he says in his Pocket History of Mars: “Any man who would change the World in a significant way must have showmanship, a genial willingness to shed other people’s blood, and a plausible new religion to introduce during the brief period of repentance and horror that usually follows bloodshed.” – page 176

“And he had methods for prolonging the period of repentance and horror that would follow the war. These methods were variations on one theme: That Earth’s glorious victory over Mars had been a tawdry butchery of virtually unarmed saints, saints who had waged feeble war on Earth in order to weld the peoples of that planet into a monolithic Brotherhood of Man.” Page 177

Break 7 – Page 177

“Theirs was a wavelet, really, composed as it was, of only forty-six ships.” Page 177 – Bee and Chrono go to Earth.

“Shame, as Rumfoord had planned it, began to set in.” Page 178

Breaks 8, 9 – Page 178

“Chrono emerged, kissed his good-luck piece.” Page 178 – as Bee and Chrono are the only survivors of their ships crash into the Amazon rain forest.

“The explanation was simple, though there was no one around to make it: Unk and Boaz weren’t supposed to go to Earth – not right away.” Page 178

“Rumfoord was preserving Unk for a major part in a pageant Rumfoord wanted to stage for his new religion.” Page 179 – Unk and Boaz go to Mercury, as Rumfoord plans to divert them for about two years.

Break 10 – Page 179

“Most of the gang was hanging, at that moment, from lamp posts in the business district or Boca Raton.” Page 179

“Last night, while you were asleep, old buddy, I took that fool thing out of your pocket, old buddy, and I opened it up, old buddy, and I tore the insides out of it, old buddy, and I stuffed it with toilet paper.” Page 180 – Unk informs Boaz that his mind control device will no longer work on him, mockingly using his same style of diction.

Break 11 – Page 181

“Him and his dog are spread all the way from the Sun to Betelgeuse.” Page 181

“To that end devoutly to be wished,” said Rumfoord, “I bring you word of a new religion that can be received enthusiastically in every corner of every Earthling heart.” Page 182

“These words will be written on that flag in gold letters on a blue field: Take Care of the People, and God Almighty Will Take Care of Himself.”

“The two chief teachings of this relation are these,” said Rumfoord: “Puny man can do nothing at all to help or please God Almighty, and Luck is not the hand of God.” Page 183

“I can work the miracle of predicting, with absolutely accuracy, the things that the future will bring.” Page 183

“The teachings of this religion will seem subtle and confusing at first,” said Rumfoord. “But they will become beautiful and crystal clear as time goes by.”

“In the meanwhile, you would do well, for background on this parable, to read everything that you can lay your hands on about the Spanish Inquisition.” Page 184

Break 12 – Page 184

“But Boaz had decided that he needed a buddy far more than he needed a means of making people do exactly what he wanted them to. During the night, he had become very unsure of what he wanted people to do, anyway.” Page 185

“He was laughing at the ferocious mess he was in – at the way he had pretended all his army life that he had understood everything that was going on, and that everything that was going on was just fine.” Page 185

“Who’s steering this fool thing?” Page 185

“That’s O.K. you went and tore its insides out. I don’t want it.” page 186

End – Page 186

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