So this is Love…But is it?

Type A:

My Take:

I wouldn’t say that the topic of marriage is always on my mind, but we are at Brigham Young University. So “Long Walk to Forever,” a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, is a prominent short story among the wide range of dystopian and satirical stories in Welcome to the Monkey House. 

The main themes of “Long Walk to Forever” are about risk-taking and following your heart. Newt goes AWOL, even at the cost of thirty days in the stocks, to see Catharine before her wedding, and Catharine, in turn, takes a walk with him to talk. The first time I read it, I thought it was cute, but during my second time through, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. 

As the story was written in 1960, some aspects of it are not appealing to a twenty-first century audience. On the second time, I started noticing how some of Newt’s actions and dialogue could be seen as manipulative of Catharine. She never voices her consent to being kissed, though the narrator notes that her love for Newt could be seen on her face, and she still continues walking with him after it occurs, “‘Thirty days in the stockade,’ [Newt] said. ‘That’s what one kiss will cost me.’” (pg. 56) He makes this remark right after Catharine tries another speech to end the walk and leave, seemingly trying to invoke her sympathy so he won’t leave empty-handed. There’s also the matter of his timing: one week before the wedding. It’s unspecified just how long Catharine and Henry had been engaged, but we can infer it was long enough for Newt to have known about it and then made a plan. If he was willing to go AWOL and hitch hike for several days in order to see her, he could have left days or weeks earlier. He could have sent a letter to Catharine, even if it was just to explain that he wanted to talk. Showing up out of the blue without any warning, though perhaps part of Newt’s character, is a suspicious way of declaring love. 

At any point during the walk, either Catharine or Newt could have stopped and parted ways. Both of them had a good excuse to do so. But neither of them actually wanted to leave and they continued their journey together until the very end of the story. I hope that being together was ultimately what they wanted and not just the result of their reunion.


Prompt: “Write a 250 word blog post on love and manipulation in Kurt Vonnegut’s short story ‘Long Walk to Forever'”

Title: Love’s Endless Journey in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Long Walk to Forever”

In the realm of literature, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Long Walk to Forever” stands as a poignant exploration of love, encapsulating its complexities and the inexorable journey it entails. This short story, published in 1960, unravels the tale of two childhood friends, Newt and Catharine, whose lives take unexpected turns as they embark on a long walk that becomes a metaphor for the eternal pursuit of love.

Vonnegut masterfully navigates the delicate intricacies of human emotions, portraying a love that transcends time and circumstance. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of impending nuptials for Catharine, as Newt grapples with his unspoken affections. The long walk becomes a symbolic odyssey, mirroring the emotional distances that love must traverse to reach its ultimate destination.

Through Vonnegut’s crisp prose and astute observations, readers witness the internal struggles of the characters as they grapple with societal expectations and personal desires. The author subtly explores the conflict between duty and passion, tradition and individuality, as Newt confronts the inevitability of Catharine’s impending marriage.

“Long Walk to Forever” is a testament to Vonnegut’s ability to distill the complexities of love into a concise and impactful narrative. The story serves as a timeless reminder that love is a journey, a continuous walk towards understanding, acceptance, and connection. In this literary gem, Vonnegut invites readers to reflect on the enduring nature of love, urging us to appreciate the beauty of its ever-unfolding journey.

Image Credit: Anton Atanasov, “Forest During Daytime” via Pexels


  • Shaylyn Lawyer

    I liked how you discussed how this story might be viewed from a 21st century audience, as this is something I found myself doing with quite a few of these short stories. A lot of the characterizations seem to reflect an older time period that would probably meet more criticism if written today.

  • Maria Durrans

    I also agree that it is interesting to look at this story through a modern-day lens. I think that manipulation tactics in love stories always stand out to me. I have had similar experiences reading or watching something a few times and my opinion on it changing!

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