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Kurt Vonnegut: "Adam" Presentation

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Kevin Fietsam

on 29 September 2014

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Transcript of Kurt Vonnegut: "Adam" Presentation

What was the Holocaust?
Some Background Research: The Holocaust
Important Themes
Quick Summary of "Adam"
Man named Heinz Knechtmann, survivor of the Holocaust, is at a hospital in Chicago
Heinz is the only remaining Knechtmann; everyone else has died from the Holocaust
His wife is having a baby, and he's very excited since the baby will continue the family name
Almost all the people around Heinz, however, do not appreciate the birth of a baby like he does
Kurt Vonnegut: "Adam"
Time for a top-notch skit!!!
Main Characters
Heinz Knechtmann:
survivor of the Holocaust who is extremely appreciative of life. He feels like an outsider in America.
Mr. Sousa:
father of seven girls. He is very cynical and is tired of having children.
co-worker of Heinz. He also does not understand why Heinz is so excited about the new baby.
Heinz's wife. She is the only one besides her husband that seems to truly appreciate the new baby.
Presentation by:

Kevin Fietsam Amanda Battle
Chris Chen Ben Balas
Society can be selfish and unappreciative
In the story "Adam", most of the characters are unaffected by the joy of new life.
People are often too preoccupied with their own lives to appreciate the lives of others.
Mr. Sousa cares more about baseball than his own child!
Hope and optimism can go a long way
Heinz maintains his enthusiasm and positive attitude despite the pessimism of others
Even though he's been through the most difficult times, he seems to be living the happiest life
This is Kurt.
Vonnegut is disappointed that society has become so flawed. He writes "Adam" with a critical tone, demonstrating how spoiled and ungrateful people can be.
Heinz acts as the rare exception; he is thankful simply to be alive.
Questions from Textbook
1. From what country and historical events is Heinz Knechtmann a refugee?
refugee from Germany
He has survived the Holocaust
2. Why is he at the hospital?
Heinz’s wife is having a baby in a Chicago hospital.
He is waiting for her while she is in labor.
3. Why is he so amazed that he and his wife have had a child?
His child will continue the family name
All of his other family members have died in the holocaust, so the baby is the last one
4. What can you infer about the following quotation: “Heinz’s mind was a medley of proud family names…brought to life in this new being-if it lived” (lines 32-33).
It is Jewish tradition to name babies after deceased loved ones
Heinz is trying to decide what to name the baby; he is excited to honor his past relatives (if the baby lives)
5. What gives Heinz and his wife the resilience to move forward with their lives after losing so much and seeing so much horror?
Since Heinz and Avchen know how easily one can die, they appreciate how valuable life is
Since life can be taken away at any moment, they must cherish every moment they have
6. Which method of characterization does Vonnegut depend on most heavily in his development of Heinz Knechtmann? Cite evidence.
Vonnegut utilizes the reactions of others to describe Heinz's character
Heinz differs greatly from characters like Mr. Sousa
"I know, I know...Seven girls I got now" (4-6).
7. Vonnegut did not experience the Holocaust firsthand, yet this event in history inspired the creation of the story. In your opinion, what was Vonnegut’s purpose in writing the story? Might is purpose have been better achieved in a historical essay, or was there advantage in depicting the story through fiction?
"Adam" is a celebration of life, but is also critiques the flaws of an increasingly uniform, robotic society
There is an advantage to describing historical events through fiction
audience can picture story more vividly and understand attitudes of people rather than just reading facts
8. Each of the following images helps support an important theme in this story. Interpret each one.
“Heinz was all alone again, with twenty feet of bar between him and the other two men. It might as well have been a continent.” (lines 167-168)
There is a cultural and situational difference between Heinz and the men
Heinz feels alienated due to his past experiences
“They couldn’t kill us, could they, Heinz?” (line 236)
Avchen expresses her optimism and will to live
Theme involves the struggles to keep a family name alive
9. Think about why Vonnegut might have chosen the title “Adam” for this story. In your opinion, is it an appropriate title? Explain.
Adam was the biblical origin of the human race
Similarly, newly born Peter is the origin of the post-Holocaust Knechtmann family
Peter is the "first" of the new Knechtmanns
10. Explain whether you agree with Heinz’s conclusion that people in this country are “too busy”, “too many”, and “too far apart” to care about one another.
We agree that people in America are not living life the way they should be
Instead of focusing on living a full life, raising children, etc., society lives for power and money
Thanks for watching!!!
The Holocaust involved the systematic killing of Jews in the 1930s and 1940s
Hitler blamed many of his failures on these people, especially WWI
an estimated 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust; that's almost two-thirds of the Jews in Europe
millions of others killed during this time as well, including those who threatened Hitler

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