Analysis of Slaughterhouse-Five Antiwar Sentiments

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Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, provided a powerful first-hand account describing the horrific events of WWII. Vonnegut recounted the events and wrote about himself through the novels protagonists, Billy Pilgrim. He was pessimistic regarding the novel because he wrote, “It is so short and jumbled and jangled, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre” (Vonnegut 22). However, on the other spectrum critics considered it to be “one of the worlds greatest antiwar books”(Vonnegut Back cover). The controversial novel was published in 1969, which was over two decades after WWII. The time it took Vonnegut to write the novel is an indication of how difficult it was for him to write about the bombings. Vonnegut does not write the novel to portray the narrator as, “John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war loving, dirty old men” (Vonnegut 14). Instead, he writes about the true chaos’s the narrator endured during his time in Dresden. Vonnegut’s novel consisted of events that reflected major societal and political movements, such as civil rights movements, and antiwar movements, within the United States during the 1960s.
One of the most significant societal movements during the 1960s was the Civil Rights movement, a coalition lead by many that voiced strong opposition to the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr was a huge voice for civil liberties, and according critic Mark Barringer, “Martin Luther King Jr openly expressed support for the antiwar movement on moral grounds…asserting that the war was draining much-needed resources from domestic programs”(Barringer 3). Martin Luther King Jr had a profound effect on the 1960s civil rights movement. He was eventually assassinated for his invo...

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...ities from WWII in his experiences at Dresden. Vonnegut’s writing is unique because “the narrator offers a very different kind of war story—one which combines fact and fiction” (Jarvis 98). With the combination of fact and fiction, Vonnegut successfully connected events from WWII to the political references and societal conflicts during the Vietnam War.

Works Cited

Barringer, Mark, Tom Wells. “The Anti-War Movement in the United States.” Oxford UP. 1999. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
Jarvis, Christina. “The Vietnamization of World War II in Slaughterhouse-Five and Gravity’s Rainbow.” War, Literature, and the Arts. 95-117. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
Vitale, Tom. “Kurt Vonnegut: Still Speaking To The War Weary.” May 31, 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. 1969 New York: Dell, 1991. Print.

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