Long Walk to Forever

This study guide will help you analyze the text “Long Walk to Forever” by Kurt Vonnegut. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characterizations, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was an American author of novels, short stories, plays and non-fiction essays. He is well-known for his preference for since-fiction settings and plots, as well as for his satirical humor. His most popular novel is “Slaughterhouse-Five”, in which the author criticizes the absurdity of war in a morbid, yet humorous way.

Excerpt from the study guide:

Inner characterization

Just like in the case of Newt, most of Catharine’s inner traits are suggested indirectly, through the way she speaks and acts, through her attitude towards Newt and her fiancé.

When faced with Newt’s love declaration, Catharine is taken by surprise and does not know what to answer. As she is about to get married to another man, she becomes confused, and she first follows her reason, rather than her heart. She tells Newt she does not share his feelings, suggesting that even if she did, there isn’t anything to do about it: “"Well, I'm deeply honored," said Catharine, "and I'm very fond of you as a friend, Newt, extremely fond--but it's just too late."” 

“Catharine was angry and rattled, close to tears. "Newt," she said, "this is absolutely crazy."
"How so?" said Newt.
"What a crazy time to tell me you love me," she said. "You never talked that way before."” 

The fact that Catharine is taken by surprise by the declaration and is hesitant to as well as distrustful suggests that she also probably loves Newt. However, she refuses to accept her feelings because she already has chosen someone to marry: “"I can't believe you're really A.W.O.L., but maybe you are. I can't believe you really love me, but maybe you do. But-"” 

While she tries to keep her head and part with Newt amiably, as friends, she still has unexpected reactions which reveal her true feelings. Furthermore, she even allows Newt to kiss her.

“Newt looked closely at Catharine's face now. To her consternation, she realized that what she had said was true, that a woman couldn't hide love. Newt was seeing love now. And he did what he had to do. He kissed her.” 

Slowly, it becomes apparent that the woman is going through an inner struggle which reflects in her conflicting reactions. She probably made peace with the idea that she and Newt were just friends and tried to continue her life getting married to another man. But, when Newt turns up at her door and declares his love, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she follow reason or her heart?

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Long Walk to Forever

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