Comparison Of Religion And Religion In 'Slaughterhouse Five'

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Introduction: All of the three texts explore religion and its practises, but each approach it from a different perspective. Whilst Owen and Brecht refer directly to the idea of God and Jesus, Vonnegut uses a far more ambiguous approach; the opinion of God in ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ has to be read allegorically, as Vonnegut’s mentions of Christianity are seldom stated. Religion does not have to be seen as only an ideology and references to God are not the necessity needed to create the theme of Religion – it appears through spirituality and communities which follow the same belief. The Thirty Years’ War of 1618 in ‘Mother Courage’, which emerged from a disagreement between Protestant and Catholic believers, is a distinct example of religious communities…show more content…
‘Mother Courage’ is ‘A Chronicle of the Thirty Years’ War’ which is an ideological fight between a Protestant and a Catholic community, implying that the people are fighting against each other for their religion. During the first scene, the Army Recruiter mentions that religious propaganda is enforced ‘night and day’, yet personally adds that ‘once you’re washed clean of sin, you can sing any song you like’ . This sets the approach towards religion throughout most of the play. It is not questioned, but taken and accepted, whilst the ones fighting for religion are just waiting to be ‘washed clean of sin’. Although religion becomes the motivation of the war, it is not the true origin of its cause; Mother Courage finds no difficultly in switching sides during the war by claiming she is of a different religion, as ‘Protestant pants cover your ass same as any other’ . Similarly, the Chaplain himself finds no difficulty in pretending to be on the other side of the war – when Mother Courage changes the religious flag on the wagon, the Chaplain comments ‘Good Catholics now, root and branches’, accepting whatever religion they would claim to be. This can be related to dialectical materialism, as the characters have no sense of self in relation to religion – they change it according to comfortability. This represents the…show more content…
It’s a miracle’ . In contrast, the General, in the same scene, praises religion, calling Eilif a ‘real Christian’ and calling the war a ‘war for God’ . The significance in comparing Mother Courage to the General is that one of them fights, the other only feeds on the war. The General, as a soldier, would be in need of motivation and gratification throughout the war. The General proclaims, following Eilif’s great stunt that ‘what’s done is done because God wants it done and you did it and I feel fantastic!’ – This amplifies the effect which appears from religious gratification combined with excellence within war. This causes more religious motivation, as The General makes Eilif assume that more war stunts need to be committed, as God ‘wants it’ and will praise it. In Slaughterhouse 5, Billy would be classified as one of the people finding motivation to ‘keep fighting’ through their religion. Billy’s experience with the Tralfamadorians can be classified as a religious experience and therefore his belief in the aliens enables him to keep going. Billy’s Tralfamadorian fantasy contains clear allusions to the Christianity and even his surname, ‘Pilgrim’ implies that he is on a pilgrimage, a religious journey.

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