Bluebeard Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Bluebeard.
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Bluebeard Summary & Study Guide Description

Bluebeard Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut.

Bluebeard: A Novel was written in 1987 by Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most famous and prolific American authors of the twentieth century. The novel is presented as an autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, a fictional artist in his senior years. Karabekian first appeared in Vonnegut's hugely successful novel Breakfast of Champions as an abstract expressionist artist.

The title Bluebeard is taken from a French folktale of the same name written by Charles Perreault 290 years prior to the publication of Vonngeut's novel. The original tale tells of a wealthy aristocrat, Bluebeard, who has married many times, yet all of his wives disappear. One day, his current wife enters a room off-limits to her as she is so overtaken with curiosity. In the room, she uncovers the dead bodies of his past wives whom Bluebeard killed for entering the room. Though she does not say anything, Bluebeard learns of her discovery. He is intent on killing his wife, but her brothers appear and kill Bluebeard, leaving his wife the sole heir to Bluebeard's massive fortune.

The connection between this Bluebeard and the original does not lie in the gruesome details but rather in the similarity of having a secret in a locked room that everyone wants to uncover.

Bluebeard is a fictional autobiography and diary of Rabo Karabekian, in which the artist recounts the story of his life, as well as his current thoughts and reflections.

Karabekian was born to immigrant parents in San Ignacio, California, the only Armenians in town. He showed a talent for drawing at an early age, and in his late teens, he headed to New York to apprentice with Dan Gregory, fellow Armenian and world-renowned commercial illustrator. They had a parting of ways when Gregory caught Karabekian at the Museum of Modern Art, rubbish as far as Gregory was concerned. Karabekian was fond of Gregory's mistress, nine years his senior, and they made love before Karabekian moved on.

During the remainder of the Great Depression, Karabekian fell on hard times until he secured a job at an advertising agency through the kindness of another Armenian. When that job came to an end, Karabekian enlisted in the army.

Karabekian was a soldier for eight years. In his eighth year, when he was finally brought to battle, he lost an eye. Upon his return, he got married, worked as an insurance salesman, and had two sons. Soon though, Karabekian was drawn to painting again, this time with a group of other painters who were also interested in exploring a new form- abstract expressionism. Karabekian had more money than the others, so he would loan cash to his friends and he was repaid in paintings. Later in life, these paintings formed the most significant and valuable collection of abstract expressionism in existence.

Karabekian's absorption in painting led to his wife and two sons leaving him. Karabekian did well as an artist, but a few years later, the paint he had used on all of his canvases peeled off. Karabekian had a strong second marriage until his wife Edith died, twenty years later.

Now he lives alone, though during the writing of this autobiography, his houseguest Mrs. Circe Berman, brings Karabekian back to life with her energy and her thoughts on art. Eventually he trusts her to the point where Karabekian reveals his newest top-secret masterpiece.

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