The story “2BR02B” by Kurt Vonnegut takes place in Chicago, United States of America, in an imagined future where all diseases have been cured, and no one dies of old age anymore. We can assume that this future is set around the year 2200, as the painter, who is around 200 years old, was 35 when the cure for aging was found, and Dr. Hitz speaks of the year 2000 as the year when scientists stepped in and laid down the law of population control.
The story takes place during a bright morning in the waiting room of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital. The waiting room is messy and untidy, because it is being redecorated “as a memorial to a man who had volunteered to die”. Therefore, the state of the room mirrors the state of the society, where individuals suffer so the species can thrive.
This is further suggested by the fact that Wehling seems to blend in very well in the messy room: “His camouflage was perfect, since the waiting room had a disorderly and demoralized air, too.”
The mural is called The Happy Garden of Life and is meant as an idealized representation of a society where everyone plays their part:
Men and women in white, doctors and nurses, turned the soil, planted seedlings, sprayed bugs, spread fertilizer. Men and women in purple uniforms pulled up weeds, cut down plants that were old and sickly, raked leaves, carried refuse to trash burners.
This suggests th...