By Susan Farrell
This source offers a competent, updated, and encyclopedic resource of data on Vonnegut's existence and paintings for top university and college-level scholars, academics, libraries, and most people.
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Proteus is charged with being the leader of a revolutionary anti-technology group, the Ghost Shirt Society (inexplicably changed to the “Gray Shirt Society” in the teleplay). This section seems to have been chosen for inclusion in Between Time and Timbuktu because it illustrates Vonnegut’s frequent critique of technology and scientific advancement. While the silly corporate video Stony Stevenson watches with the rest of the jury members argues that technology has benefited John Averageman, readers of the teleplay see technology’s more sinister applications, especially in Stony Stevenson’s third adventure, which focuses on the invention of ice-nine, the doomsday device from Cat’s Cradle that ends up destroying the Earth and nearly every living thing on it, except for a small band of survivors.
On the day of the state marching band contest, Helmholtz plans for the Lincoln High School Ten Square Band to stop in front of the judges’ stand and shoot off fireworks, then for Leroy to play a piccolo solo. But the young man’s newfound confidence has emboldened him to speak to a pretty blond piccolo player in a rival band. The drum major of this band looks closely at Leroy’s uniform, pushes and prods it, and, upon discovering the padding, seizes the jacket, tearing it apart. Helmholtz is forced to outfit Leroy in an ordinary spare uniform and fully expects the young man to play so poorly that Lincoln High will lose the contest.
In this final scene, readers may begin to suspect that Stony’s journey has perhaps been simply an interior one, into the recesses of his own mind. At one point, when talking to Hitler, the astronaut touches his head and says, “It’s all up here . . you . . them . . this . . Mission Control . . the moon, the sun, the stars” (261). The play closes with Stony returned to Earth, determined not to worry, but to simply “smile . . smile . . smile . ” (277). Paradise might be only a lie, but choosing to believe such a lie can make life bearable.