Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|LC Class||PS3572.O5 D4 1982|
The novel's main character, Rudy Waltz, nicknamed Deadeye Dick, commits accidental manslaughter as a child (he carelessly shoots a gun out of a window and fatally strikes a pregnant woman) and lives his whole life feeling guilty and seeking forgiveness for it. He was so traumatized by the events directly after the woman's death that he lives life as an asexual "neuter," neither homosexual nor heterosexual. He tells the story of his life as a middle-aged man expatriate in Haiti, which symbolizes New York City, until the end, when the stream of time of the story catches up with him. At this point, he confronts an event that has been suggested and referred to throughout the novel. The generic Midwestern town of Midland City, Ohio (also the setting of Breakfast of Champions) in which Rudy was raised is virtually destroyed by a neutron bomb. At the ending of the book, it appears that Rudy, while he may not have fully come to terms with his actions, has at least come to live with them.
Another key theme throughout the book is the relationship between Waltz and his parents. His father, as a young man, lived in Austria, and was one of the few people who was actually friends with Adolf Hitler before his rise to power.
Place in the Vonnegut universe
Deadeye Dick is set mostly within fictional Midland City, Ohio, which is also the setting for one of Vonnegut's other seminal works, Breakfast of Champions. Several characters, locations or concepts from that novel are mentioned in passing or have an active role in the story (e.g. Rabo Karabekian, Dwayne and Celia Hoover, the Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts, and Barrytron Ltd., amongst others).
- Vonnegut discusses Deadeye Dick with Martin Amis - a British Library sound recording
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