The Sirens of Titan - The Relationship Rumfoord/Constant

Seminar Paper, 1995

10 Pages, Grade: 3

Free online reading

List of contents

1. Introduction

2. Main Part: Discussion of the relationship Rumford/ Constant

3. Conclusion

Bibliographica1 data

The Relation Rumfoord / Constant

1. Introduction

The Sirens of Titan is a science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut. It was first published in 1959 and was one of Vonnegut's three science fiction novels besides serveral stories that were all published after the Second World War.

With The Sirens of Titan Vonnegut sets an ironical focus on military space armament, military (command) hierarchy and the possible influence of other, higher developed beings from foreign planets on human beings. It also contains a satyrical view on the society of the U.S.A. It is also a story about the manipulation and manipulative skill of men and ist limits.

The author was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He started to study biochemistry. As prisoner of war he expierienced the bombardement of Dresden, an event that engraved upon his memory. After the Second World War he studied anthropology and became an independent writer. During his studies he gained distance to the prevailing opinions of the American society. In total he wrote three science fiction novels, apart from The Sirens of Titan these are Player Piano (1952) and Cats Cradle ((1963). His most famous novel is Slaughterhouse Five (1969), a novel with which he tried to digest his war impressions. Altogether he wrote about 12 novels; their satyrical style made him to a kind of cult-figure for American students. He was an initiator of the Organisation of American Science Fiction Writers (SFWA). He belongs to those few science fiction writers who have managed to settle down in contemporary literature.

The Sirens of Titan is as well a story about a very strange relation between two men. This relation shall be the theme of this work. Winston Niles Rumfoord and Malachi Constant are the names of the two protagonists in this novel. The setting of this novel is not only placed on Earth. Both travel

through the galaxy and reach Mars, Mercury and finally Titan.

2. Main Part: Discussion of the relationship Rumford/ Constant

Winton Niles Rumfoord appears as the omnipotent omniscient supernatural being, who is able to travel through space and time in a very mysterious way (called materialisation). He is able to materialize, that means to vanish at his momentary whereabouts to appear again at the same time somewhere else in the universe. The reason for this kind of progression is his collision with a so-called “chrono-synclastic infundibulum“.

Furthermore he possesses another special ability, he is able to see into the future and into the past at the same time. He is protected excellently from any opponent in his living estate, where he lives as a member of the upper class of the U.S.A. One day he let his wife invite Malachi Constant, the richest man in the world, to his estate :

Mrs. Winston Niles Rumfoord asks me to inform you that she is unable to extend the invitation you request. She is sure you will understand her feeling in the matter: that the phenomenon you wish to observe is a tragic family affair, hardly a fit subject tor the scrutinity of outsiders, no matter how nobly motivated their curiosities.

(The Sirens of Titan, p. 10)

He wants to abuse him for a secret mission and does not even give him the least chance to find his own way as alternative to Rumfoords almighty will. So to speak he confronts him with a fait accompli. Their first meeting and quarrel takes place now.

Rumfoord functions as clairvoyant and reveals Constant’s whole course of life has to take place on the planet Mars, then on Mercury and Titan. As Rumfoord’s wife said, that he had met Constant already on the planet Titan, Constant doesn't know anything about it.

He insists that he knows you well, having met you on Titan, which, I am given to understand, is a moon of the planet Saturn.

(p. 16)

Constant tries in vain to rebel against Rumfoord's plans, but he does not manage to shake off his chains. Rumfoord’s influence on him is too strong. At their first meeting it becomes clear that Rumfoord was the first person who gives Constant the impression to be inferior:

He was much taller and heavier than Malachi Constant - and he was the first person who had ever made Constant think that there might actually be a person superior to himself.

(p. 20).

Although Constant has his whereabouts in Hollywood and enjoys a luxourious life there, Rumfoord wants to convince him on one hand of the excellent atmosphere and on the other hand he wants to attract him with photos of beautiful girls.

“There is more to Titan than just climate" said Rumfoord. "The women, for instance, are the most beautiful creatures between the Sun and Betelgeuse."

(p. 36)

10 of 10 pages


The Sirens of Titan - The Relationship Rumfoord/Constant
Technical University of Berlin  (Institut für Englische und Amerikanische Literaturwissenschaft)
PS: Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
384 KB
Sirens, Titan, Relationship, Rumfoord/Constant, Richard, Brautigan, Kurt, Vonnegut
Quote paper
Dr. phil. Roland Scheller (Author), 1995, The Sirens of Titan - The Relationship Rumfoord/Constant, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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