2. “The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”
. . . . A siren was going off in [George’s] head.
“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.
“What would?” said George blankly.
“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?”
“Who knows?” said George.
This quotation, which appears near the beginning of the story, exemplifies the meandering, nonsensical human interactions that have become standard in Vonnegut’s fictional America. Because he is smart, George is able to formulate an idea that society would disintegrate if people disregarded the laws and to pose that idea as a hypothetical question. But because his thinking is interrupted by one of the innumerable noises the government broadcasts over his radio, he loses track of the conversation completely. Even though Hazel is able to follow his reasoning, he can’t remember what he was talking about moments before, and she isn’t bright enough to get him back on track. The disturbing implication is that America’s laws of equality go unchallenged not because citizens believe in them deeply but because they are too bewildered to figure out what they think of the laws in the first place. If George were able to think in peace for a few hours, he might come to believe that the laws he defends are absurd. However, these laws, against which he would likely protest if he could, are the ones that prevent him from thinking for more than a few seconds at a stretch.