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When is a Novel not a Novel: When It is Used to Teach Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  unescorted, Paul granted him permission even though it violated a directive with “no exceptions.” Echoing Weber’s reference to knowledge of rules as “special technical expertise,” Katherine Finch reminds Paul about the directive: “She knew all of the directives - and there were thousands of them - cold” (66). From the big rules to the little, Vonnegut defines a fictional bureaucracy exactly as the real bureaucracy was envisioned by Weber. Vonnegut’s critique of rules runs the gamut from the absurd to the ironic. He has a young woman turn to prostitution because her husband’s book was rejected by one of the book clubs of the National Council of Arts and Letters. Although it was “beautifully written,” “it was twenty-seven pages longer than the maximum length [and] its readability quotient was 26.3.” Dr. Halyard explains that ‘[n]o club will touch anything with an R.Q. above 17” (211). Dr. Halyard, smug little bastard that he is, gets his in the end. In a letter addressed to Mr. Halyard, he is informed that because he failed to meet a P.E. requirement at Cornell, he is “officially without a college degree of any sort.” Given the chance to make up the credit, Halyard must face Dr. Roseberry; a man who, by Vonnegut’s coincidence, Halyard tried to have fired five years earlier (180, 245-246). While the absurd and comedic establish the obvious critique of a rule-driven bureaucracy, Vonnegut is, perhaps, the most insightful when he hits closest to home. Unlike Halyard, Fred Berringer was an engineer whose “money and name could beat the system any time.” Regardless of the formal rules, “the hell of it was that his attitude won grudging admiration from his fellow engineers, who had got their jobs the hard way” (40). Beyond her knowledge of the rules, or maybe because of it, Katherine Finch is a wonderful example of Vonnegut’s bureaucracy and its obsession with formal training.

Authors: Connor, George.
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unescorted, Paul granted him permission even though it violated a directive with “no
exceptions.” Echoing Weber’s reference to knowledge of rules as “special technical
expertise,” Katherine Finch reminds Paul about the directive: “She knew all of the
directives - and there were thousands of them - cold” (66). From the big rules to the little,
Vonnegut defines a fictional bureaucracy exactly as the real bureaucracy was envisioned
by Weber. Vonnegut’s critique of rules runs the gamut from the absurd to the ironic. He
has a young woman turn to prostitution because her husband’s book was rejected by one
of the book clubs of the National Council of Arts and Letters. Although it was
“beautifully written,” “it was twenty-seven pages longer than the maximum length [and]
its readability quotient was 26.3.” Dr. Halyard explains that ‘[n]o club will touch
anything with an R.Q. above 17” (211). Dr. Halyard, smug little bastard that he is, gets
his in the end. In a letter addressed to Mr. Halyard, he is informed that because he failed
to meet a P.E. requirement at Cornell, he is “officially without a college degree of any
sort.” Given the chance to make up the credit, Halyard must face Dr. Roseberry; a man
who, by Vonnegut’s coincidence, Halyard tried to have fired five years earlier (180,
245-246). While the absurd and comedic establish the obvious critique of a rule-driven
bureaucracy, Vonnegut is, perhaps, the most insightful when he hits closest to home.
Unlike Halyard, Fred Berringer was an engineer whose “money and name could beat the
system any time.” Regardless of the formal rules, “the hell of it was that his attitude won
grudging admiration from his fellow engineers, who had got their jobs the hard
way” (40).
Beyond her knowledge of the rules, or maybe because of it, Katherine Finch is a
wonderful example of Vonnegut’s bureaucracy and its obsession with formal training.


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