James Wait’s Rebirth from an Iron Age in Galapagos
In Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, James Wait shows his rebirth by leaving his “Iron Age” and entering into his new “Golden Age.” Galapagos portrays a group of people who travel to an island on a boat to unknowingly escape a virus that wipes out all of man kind. They now hold the job to repopulate the earth. James Wait, one of the main characters on this voyage, struggles with problems and difficulties in his life, but in the end he reaches peace and a golden happiness. James went through a corrupt childhood that helped to lead him into trouble, but by maturing without parents, James brought forth a new and better being. At one time he lived as a liar and a cheat as well as a “wanna-be” that manipulated peoples’ minds and he even went so far as to not even tell his former wives his real name! James who portrays a messed up character finally realizes, before he dies, that he acted wrong and he understands his faults. Does he die as an obtainer of a golden age or does he die as a punishment for his corrupt past? James Wait probably obtained his “Golden Age” through a rebirth he gained by slowly conforming in a three step process: Sin, Realization of Sin, and Recovery from Sin.
James Wait acted cruelly to his wives. He just wanted money and someone to converse with. Leon Trout tells us in the beginning of the book about James’ marriages: “Wait had so far courted and married seventeen such persons-and then cleaned out their jewelry boxes and safe-deposit boxes and bank accounts, and disappeared.”(Pg. 8 ) James Wait portrays his cruelness and decisiveness towards women in the story. He shows his state of an “Iron Age” and he cheats people into entering it so that he may attain power to manipulate them and live off them like a parasite. He probably knows he acts corrupt but he does not want to accept it just yet.
James Wait begins to realize his problem following the law. He starts to see a new form of life without sin or deception. He realizes life becomes easier and better when he follows the law. Leon trout tells us about how Wait realizes this stage: “Wait had just about made up his mind to light out for Manhattan, and he did not want to do anything which might give the police and excuse for locking him up.” (Pg. 230) James loved to challenge the law but when he was to return to Manhattan, he felt he should follow the law. The goodness and rebirth started and he slowly realized this change. James would soon see right from wrong. He would see that his childhood past was crooked and that he now held the opportunity to repair the scar it left on his “big brain.”
At the end of the book James Wait comes to a fulfilled “Golden Age.” He has fixed his problems and mended his gaps with a new life to follow. His corrupt childhood ended and now he becomes free from all troublemakers and criminals on the Bahia de Darwin. He now sees the happiness and peace that comes with this “new life.” James Wait, while aboard the Bahia de Darwin experiences happiness in this “new life”: “I have the most wonderful news. Mrs. Kaplan is going to marry me. I am the luckiest man in the world.” (Pg. 237) He attained his personal “Golden Age” through a struggle of crime, hatred, and deception. Wait learns from experience that these actions are not what leads to a happy life. He learns that peace, love, happiness, loyalty, friendship, and trust lead to a happy and “legal” life! James then dies immediately after marrying Mary. He died right as his “Golden Age” started to come into effect. Does he die as an obtainer of a golden age? Or does he die as a punishment for his corrupt past so that he may experience the correct way of living and feeling for a moment and suddenly die? These questions remain unanswered, so the reader must decide.
James Wait experienced some really difficult times in his life that lead to his downfall and loss of innocence. His experience with the Bahia de Darwin changed his attitude and helped him to form a “Golden Age.” His rebirth seemed short but to the point, showing him that happiness becomes attained through trust and love. James Wait died knowing he lived a corrupt life. In the end, James Wait learned the value of trust, love and happiness. Those three things show what life is all about.