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Kurt Vonnegut's 'You Have Insulted Me': Argument Analysis

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Many think book burnings took place in times past and certainly not in the last century, but that was the case in the fall of 1973. A school board protested against Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s book Slaughterhouse-Five, on the grounds that it was unsuited for children. Their mode of protest? Book burning. The school instructed the school janitor to burn the book in question, in the school furnace. Vonnegut Jr., in reply, wrote a letter, “You Have Insulted Me”, to the chairman of the school board. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., after one of his books were burned by a school, wrote a scathing letter that upon analyzing can be seen is full of excellent arguments to try to convince the school what it did was terribly wrong. Vonnegut, Jr. has many different arguments in his letter. He writes, “If you were to…show more content…
They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are.” (Vonnegut, Jr.). Vonnegut, Jr. argues that his books were not written to lead young people astray, like the school board believes. He wrote his books to ask people to kinder and more responsible. The school board accuses him of not being the very two things his books ask others to be. Vonnegut, Jr. also writes, “Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations, which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.” (Vonnegut, Jr.). He writes that it is every American’s duty to allow all ideas to be spoken freely in the community, not just the ideas that benefit certain people. He argues that books are sacred because they hold ideals and ideas that are very important to free men, who know their importance. Vonnegut, Jr. argues,
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