Estimated read time: 6 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Edward K. Wehling Jr.Protagonist
Leora DuncanProtagonist
Dr. Benjamin HitzAntagonist
Wehling's WifeSupporting Character
Wehling's TripletsSupporting Characters
Government OfficialsSupporting Characters

Role Identification

In Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s dystopian short story "2BR02B," several characters play significant roles in shaping the narrative and exploring the themes. The protagonist, Edward K. Wehling Jr., and his love interest, Leora Duncan, struggle against the antagonist, Dr. Benjamin Hitz, and the oppressive government. Wehling's wife and triplets, along with various government officials, provide supporting roles that contribute to the story's tension and development.

Character Descriptions

  1. Edward K. Wehling Jr.: Wehling is a middle-aged man who becomes the central character in "2BR02B." He is described as anxious and tormented, grappling with the responsibility of making a life-or-death decision for the sake of his family.
  2. Leora Duncan: Leora Duncan is Wehling's love interest and a compassionate woman. She embodies hope and empathy, providing a counterbalance to the harsh realities of the story's world.
  3. Dr. Benjamin Hitz: Dr. Hitz serves as the primary antagonist, representing the oppressive government's policies in the story. He is depicted as cold, calculating, and indifferent to human suffering, making him a formidable obstacle for Wehling and Duncan.
  4. Wehling's Wife: Wehling's wife is a minor character but holds significance in the story. Her presence symbolizes the emotional weight and personal sacrifice that Wehling carries, highlighting the human cost of the government's population control measures.
  5. Wehling's Triplets: Wehling's triplets, although not extensively described, represent the potential future generation that Wehling must choose between. Their innocence and vulnerability serve as a catalyst for Wehling's internal conflict.
  6. Government Officials: Various government officials appear in the story, enforcing and implementing the population control policies. They embody the faceless bureaucracy and lack of empathy prevalent in the dystopian society.

Character Traits

  1. Edward K. Wehling Jr.: Anxious, tormented, conflicted, responsible.
  2. Leora Duncan: Compassionate, hopeful, empathetic.
  3. Dr. Benjamin Hitz: Cold, calculating, indifferent, oppressive.
  4. Wehling's Wife: Supportive, emotionally burdened.
  5. Wehling's Triplets: Innocent, vulnerable, symbolic.
  6. Government Officials: Faceless, bureaucratic, lacking empathy.

Character Background

  1. Edward K. Wehling Jr.: Wehling, a middle-aged man, is burdened by the government's population control policies. He is torn between saving his own life and allowing his triplets to live. Wehling's personal struggles reflect the larger societal implications of the government's policies.
  2. Leora Duncan: Leora Duncan is a compassionate and empathetic woman who forms a romantic connection with Wehling. Her background is not explicitly explored in the story, but her presence represents the resilience and hope that exists even in oppressive circumstances.
  3. Dr. Benjamin Hitz: Dr. Hitz serves as the embodiment of the government's oppressive policies. As a high-ranking official, his background remains largely unknown. However, his unwavering dedication to the population control measures suggests a deep-rooted belief in their necessity.
  4. Wehling's Wife: Wehling's wife symbolizes the emotional toll that the population control policies have on families. Her background is not explicitly described, but her presence highlights the personal sacrifices made in this dystopian society.
  5. Wehling's Triplets: The triplets are the future generation that Wehling must choose between. Their background is not explored individually, but collectively, they represent the hope for a better future and the potential loss that Wehling faces.
  6. Government Officials: The government officials' backgrounds are not delved into in the story. However, their roles as enforcers of the population control policies highlight the systemic oppression prevalent in the society.

Character Arcs

  1. Edward K. Wehling Jr.: Wehling experiences a significant character arc throughout the story. Initially tormented by the decision he must make, he ultimately chooses to sacrifice himself to allow his triplets to live. This decision represents a transformation from personal survival to selfless sacrifice.
  2. Leora Duncan: Leora's character arc is not as pronounced as Wehling's. However, her presence and unwavering support for Wehling contribute to his development and eventual decision. Her empathy and compassion provide a moral compass and emotional support for Wehling.
  3. Dr. Benjamin Hitz: Dr. Hitz remains relatively static throughout the story, representing the oppressive government's unyielding policies. His lack of empathy and commitment to the population control measures remain unchanged, serving as a constant obstacle for Wehling.


  1. Edward K. Wehling Jr. and Leora Duncan: Wehling and Duncan share a romantic connection based on mutual empathy and support. Leora's presence allows Wehling to find solace and make his difficult decision.
  2. Edward K. Wehling Jr. and Dr. Benjamin Hitz: Wehling and Dr. Hitz represent opposing forces in the story. Wehling's struggle against Hitz's oppressive policies drives the narrative's conflict.
  3. Edward K. Wehling Jr. and Wehling's Wife: Wehling's wife represents the personal sacrifice and emotional burden that Wehling carries throughout the story. Although her character is not extensively explored, her presence adds emotional weight to Wehling's decision-making process.
  4. Edward K. Wehling Jr. and Wehling's Triplets: Wehling's relationship with his triplets is primarily symbolic. The triplets represent the potential future generation that Wehling must choose between, highlighting the ethical dilemma he faces.

In "2BR02B," Kurt Vonnegut Jr. creates a cast of characters that explore the themes of sacrifice, oppression, and the value of human life in a dystopian society. Through the protagonist's internal struggle, the story examines the moral implications of population control policies and the lengths individuals might go to protect their loved ones. The relationships between characters provide emotional depth and drive the narrative, ultimately challenging readers to question the ethics of societal control.