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Image obtained from “The effects of aging; can they be reversed?” via Medical News Today

I really enjoyed using my imagination to picture the worlds that Vonnegut described in “Unready to Wear” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” Besides realizing all the benefits Vonnegut created for the amphibians and the people who don’t age, it also made me think about all the problems their world has created because of these “solutions” to the problem of aging. I feel like we often look at different aspects of the world and think “what if…” and dream about how wonderful and different things could be. But I also know that every action has a consequence, and we really do need to “be careful what you wish for.”

Although the people in the story of “Unready to Wear” have solved the problems that come with having a physical and mortal body, they have created more societal problems and have lost out on many of the joys of life that come through having a body. Although it can be annoying to have to eat to resolve hunger, eating is also one of the joys of life, and can be socially enjoyable. The amphibians don’t even really get to be social because they’re invisible and can’t do anything. Physical intimacy is another joy of having a physical body, and that’s something they’re missing out on as well. Although they did solve the problem of physical comparison and insecurity, they lose their individuality and identity. Since not everyone in their world is an amphibian, they’ve created quite the societal divide. Each side has advantages and disadvantages over the other, but at the end of the day they’re enemies. “We always know what they’re going to do next, and when and where, so there isn’t any trick to keeping out of their way. But they are pretty smart, considering they’ve got bodies to look after besides doing their thinking, so I always try to be cautious when I go over to watch them,” (pp. 263). I find it interesting that even though the “point” of getting out of mortal bodies was to just use your brain and psyche, the amphibians still view the regular humans as being smart because of their body.

In the world of “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” the effects of their anti-gerasone have created population problems and depleted their resources. Humans aren’t intended to live forever, which creates a natural balance of these things in our world. By virtually eliminating death, no one wants to die, so why would they choose to? As Em says to Lou, “You just haven’t had a chance to be anything or have anything because Gramps and the rest of his generation won’t leave and let somebody else take over,” (pp. 316). More people are born into the world while fewer leave it. The fact that huge families have to share tiny living spaces and everyone has to eat foods made from processed seaweed and sawdust proves that maybe immortality isn’t such a good idea after all.

4 thoughts on “Mortality and Immortality

  1. I think it’s interesting that you pointed out some of the drawbacks of the “amphibious” lifestyle. In the story I think it’s hinted at that they haven’t really “transcended” everything petty as much as they might think, because they are still preoccupied with appearances, for one thing.

  2. I read it that the non-amphibians are smart despite their bodies. But you raise a good point that we should not necessarily take everything the narrator of the story says as 100% true.

  3. I like your points here! I like that you have thought about the issues that have arisen with the “solutions” that have been presented in these stories. I think it is so true that we often look at our own lives and wish we could change certain things and may feel like that will solve our problems but it may just make it worse in the end.

  4. I think you do a really good job of enumerating the advantages and disadvantages of the Amphibians in “Unready to Wear”. Vonnegut creates these worlds and situations where values and morals are twisted, and I think this really comes out in these two stories and in your analysis of them.

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