60 pages 2 hours read

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Player Piano

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1952

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Teacher Introduction

Player Piano

  • Genre: Fiction; dystopian/science fiction; satire
  • Originally Published: 1952
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 930L; college/adult
  • Structure/Length: 35 chapters; approximately 352 pages; approximately 11 hours, 31 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: Player Piano is a dystopian science fiction novel set in a future society where machines have replaced human labor, creating a highly stratified and dehumanized world. The central conflict follows Dr. Paul Proteus, an engineer in this automated society, who becomes disillusioned with the devaluation of human creativity and individuality. As he grapples with his own sense of purpose and identity, he becomes involved in a rebellion against the system. The novel explores general themes of automation, technology, class struggle, and the role of the individual in a mechanized world.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Societal control, dehumanization, and rebellion; profanity

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Author

  • Bio: Born 1922, deceased 2007; American novelist known for his unique blend of science fiction, satire, and social commentary; celebrated for his thought-provoking and darkly humorous works; authored a range of novels that continue to be praised for their satirical and philosophical elements
  • Other Works: Cat’s Cradle (1963); Slaughterhouse-Five (1969); Breakfast of Champions (1973)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Guide:

  • Industrialization and Humanity’s Loss of Agency
  • Disconnection
  • Technology as Deity

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Teaching Guide, students will: