Coping with War: A Comparison Between Slaughterhouse Five and A Farewell to Arms

Coping with War: A Comparison Between Slaughterhouse Five and A Farewell to Arms

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Earnest Hemmingway once said "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime." (Ernest Hemingway: A Literary Reference) War is a gruesome and tragic thing and affects people differently. Both Vonnegut and Hemmingway discus this idea in their novels A Farewell to Arms and Slaughterhouse Five. Both of the novels deal not only with war stories but other genres, be it a science fiction story in Vonnegut’s case or a love story in Hemingway’s. Despite all the similarities there are also very big differences in the depiction of war and the way the two characters cope with their shocking and different experiences. It is the way someone deals with these tragedies that is the true story. This essay will evaluate how the main characters in both novels deal with their experiences in different ways.
Slaughterhouse Five shows a thoughtful and compassionate analysis of Billy's response to the cruelty of life and war. This cruelty comes from death, time, renewal, war, and the lack of compassion for human life, all large themes in the novel that try to solve the great mystery of death, once and for all.
Billy allows himself to be ruled by chance and when his time travels first begin, he does nothing to try and control when they happen or where they go. Billy knows that the Tralfamadorians are coming, but does nothing to stop it and goes with them freely. Billy saw a "flying saucer from Tralfamadore, navigation both space and time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once" (Vonnegut 95) These feelings stayed with Billy throughout the many odd occurrences of his life. When still a child in the eyes of society, Billy was sent off to fight World War II in Europe. There he be...


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... from their surroundings, whether it be time travel, or love. Throughout the novels both Pilgrim and Henry are alone in mind while surrounded by people all the time. They could not escape the war no matter what they did, and it will always be with them, either in mind or matter. So it goes.






Works Cited

Glasser, William A. "A Farewell to Arms." The Sewannee Review 2nd ser. 74 (1966): 453-69. JSTOR. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. .
Harris, Charles B. "Time, Uncertainty, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: A Reading of Slaughterhouse-Five." The Centennial Review 3rd ser. 20 (1976): 228-42. Web.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner Classics, 1997. Print.
Trogdon, Robert W. Ernest Hemingway: A Literary Reference. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002. Print.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse 5. N.p.: Dial Trade Paperback, 2009. Print.

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