Saturday, November 29, 2008

What and Jeff?

The sentence from chapter one of Slaughterhouse-Five that states, "We were Mutt and Jeff in the war" is accompanied by my enthusiastic annotation of "Yes, Mutt and Jeff!!! I kind of know what that alludes to." (The excitement of feeling smart lead to all those exclamation points.) But since I only "kind of" knew what it was referring to, I decided to look it up. I've only heard of the term once before, when a longtime friend of mine's mother decided to start calling the two of us Mutt and Jeff, since we vary in height by about five inches. We were both really confused, and she explained to us that Mutt and Jeff was an old comic strip with one character that's ridiculously tall and lanky, and the other short and squat. The names stuck.

Wikipedia informed me that the American comic strip written by Bud Fisher was extremely popular in the early 1900s. It was something of a slapstick comedy that followed the adventures of two friends. Interestingly enough, Mutt and Jeff were also codenames for two WWII spies who worked for the UK and lead Germans to think that the 1944 D-Day landings would be in Calais, not Normandy. It seems that Vonnegut would be aware of this connection, but I'm not sure if it was intentional.

The comic strip version. But Britain did have an airborne division in the D-Day invasion...


Katie B. said...

This is interesting. It's nice to know a little more about what the story is referring to, seeing as there is a bit of a generation gap between us and the author as well as the characters.

Rae Rae said...


I think it was really cool that you were able to make that connection. I also know that feeling of...Oooooo, I feel smart...after something like that occurs. Although, you are really smart and me, well, not so much. :) The other thing that I thought was cute was your connection to this expression in your own life. I liked how your mom's friend calls you and your mom Mutt and Jeff. I don't know if I have seen your mom so I'm not sure is she is the taller one or is your are. Either way it's still cute!

I wonder if Vonnegut knew that they were code names or not. Hmm...interesting. Well, anyway, nice blog! Thanks for the information on Mutt and Jeff.

-Rachel :)

Ky-Ky Bebeh said...

Oh, wow! @.@

I never would've caught that at all in the book; usually I just pass over details like that in the book because I don't have a clue what Vonnegut is talking about... >.<

It seems to really fit the book though from the info you looked up about it! Really nice personal connection too.

Good job! :D