Response – Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

I enjoyed watching Kurt Vonnegut’s video regarding the shape and course of stories, specifically his use of humor regarding the topic. After reading and responding to the short story, “Ice Man“, I struggled to fit a shape Vonnegut described to the story.

The main character starts out well, but upon meeting the I.C.E agent (the Ice Man) his story line begins to decline. At this point the protagonists story line never recovers, as in the end, his rodeo earnings are taken from him and he is arrested.

I drew a picture (taking from example Vonnegut’s drawing) of the story line for Ice Man:


It’s a bleak story.

The other story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” also didn’t follow the story line that I expected. It failed to meet my preconceived idea of a Western theme involving dramatic gun battles and good vs. evil.

Here is a picture of how I viewed this story line:


It starts out slightly better than normal, then gets worse with the introduction of Scratchy. The story is then returned to slightly better after Potter disarms Scratchy.