Kurt Vonnegut’s background had an endless influence upon his writing. In his early years, Vonnegut was a private in the 106th infantry division in World War II. He and five scouts were caught behind enemy lines, and then captured. They were held POWs and were beaten on various occasions. In 1945, they witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany. Kept during this time in a slaughterhouse, this is part of the inspiration for Slaughterhouse-five. After being released from the Slaughterhouse, Vonnegut called Dresden “utter destruction” and “carnage unfathomable”. This distressing time in his life led to one of the many themes of Slaughterhouse-five which is that nothing good can come from war and a massacre. This theme is expressed in the story when Billy Pilgrim says “Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim ’Poo-tee-weet?’” After the bombing, the POWs had to gather the bodies for a mass grave and then all the remains were set on fire. Vonnegut and the other prisoners were only there for a few more months, until they were rescued. The lasting effect this awful war caused Vonnegut had significant affect upon his writing; on return to the U.S., he was awarded a purple heart.
II. Book Analysis-
Setting (time): This story starts with Vonnegut writing in first person and is set in 1968. The rest of the storyline is jumbled up as Billy is “caught in time”. It goes from meticulous descriptions of war experiences in 1944-1945, to skipping around his whole life from childhood in the 1920’s to death in 1976.
Setting (place): Billy spends most of 1944-1945 in Germany in the war. He was in the Battle of Bulge, in Belgium, in the forest. He was then transported in a boxcar to a war camp in Luxembour...
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"Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr. 1922 Criticism: Critical Essay by Joyce Carol Oates on Kurt Vonnegut Summary." BookRags.com: Book Summaries, Study Guides. Thompson Corporation. Web. 05 Jan. 2010. .
For a novel to be considered a Great American Novel, it must contain a theme that is uniquely American, a hero that is the essence of a great American, or relevance to the American people. Others argue, however, that the Great American Novel may never exist. They say that America and her image are constantly changing and therefore, there will never be a novel that can represent the country in its entirety. In his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut writes about war and its destructiveness. Vonnegut tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, an unlikely hero, mentally scarred by World War Two. Kurt Vonnegut explains how war is so devastating it can ruin a person forever. These are topics that are reoccurring in American history and have a relevance to the American people thus making Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five a Great American Novel.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a World War II veteran and author of the literary masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five, was one of the many there to witness the destruction of the city of Dresden located in Germany, and one of the few to survive to tell the gruesome details. Most of his writing was used to encourage those with anti-war mindsets to take a stand, and to inform everyone else of the damage that is done when a nation goes to war. He uses his books to remind people that war is gruesome, gory, and violent, and the glamorous aspect of it is simply a disturbed part of one’s imagination that truly does not exist. He reminds people of the visceral hatred that comes with the package of war; of how Germans used the fat of dead Jews to make soap and candles and how there was a scarce food supply for prisoners during the second World War, or possibly any war for that matter. The fire-bombing of Dresden lead to the unnecessary deaths of over 60,000 civilians and prisoners of war (POW’s). Homes, lives, and much more were destroyed and the damage was almost unfathomable. The POW’s that survived the disaster were ordered to stay behind and remove the dead bodies. Because there were so many of them and the stench was so putrid, most of the bodies were cremated by the soldiers and left exactly where they lay in a pile of ashes. Such a scene seems painful for Vonnegut to look back on and he demonstrates his distaste for such things as war with his novels, especially Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut used the story of Slaughterhouse-Five to explain the after effects of war, why a nation should never go to war, and what such violence will ultimately lead to.
Though he was able to escape war unharmed, Billy seems to be mentally unstable. In fact, his nightmares in the German boxcar at the prisoners of war (POW) camp indicate that he is experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): “And now there was an acrimonious madrigal, with parts sung in all quarters of the car. Nearly everybody, seemingly, had an atrocity story of something Billy Pilgrim had done to him in his sleep. Everybody told Billy Pilgrim to keep the hell away” (79). Billy’s PTSD is also previously hinted when he panics at the sound of sirens: “A siren went off, scared the hell out of him. He was expecting World War III at any time. The siren was simply announcing high noon” (57). The most prominent symptom of PTSD, however, is reliving disturbing past experiences which is done to an even more extreme extent with Billy as Slaughterhouse-Five’s chronology itself correlates with this symptom. Billy’s “abduction” and conformity to Tralfamadorian beliefs seem to be his method of managing his insecurity and PTSD. He uses the Tralfamadorian motto “so it goes” as a coping mechanism each time he relives a tragic event. As Billy struggles with the conflict of PTSD, the work’s chronological order is altered, he starts to believe
Kurt Vonnegut places his experiences and his views in the text. He begins the book by stating, “All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true...I’ve changed all of the names.” Viewing war as a sen...
"In Slaughterhouse Five, -- Or the Children's Crusade, Vonnegut delivers a complete treatise on the World War II bombing of Dresden. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is a very young infantry scout* who is captured in the Battle of the Bulge and quartered in a Dresden slaughterhouse where he and other prisoners are employed in the production of a vitamin supplement for pregnant women. During the February 13, 1945, firebombing by Allied aircraft, the prisoners take shelter in an underground meat locker. When they emerge, the city has been levelled and they are forced to dig corpses out of the rubble. The story of Billy Pilgrim is the story of Kurt Vonnegut who was captured and survived the firestorm in which 135,000 German civilians perished, more than the number of deaths in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Robert Scholes sums up the theme of Slaughterhouse Five in the New York Times Book Review, writing: 'Be kind. Don't hurt. Death is coming for all of us anyway, and it is better to be Lot's wife looking back through salty eyes than the Deity that destroyed those cities of the plain in order to save them.' The reviewer concludes that 'Slaughterhouse Five is an extraordinary success. It is a book we need to read, and to reread.' "The popularity of Slaughterhouse Five is due, in part, to its timeliness; it deals with many issues that were vital to the late sixties: war, ecology, overpopulation, and consumerism. Klinkowitz, writing in Literary Subversions.New American Fiction and the Practice of Criticism, sees larger reasons for the book's success: 'Kurt Vonnegut's fiction of the 1960s is the popular artifact which may be the fairest example of American cultural change. . . . Shunned as distastefully low-brow . . . and insufficiently commercial to suit the exploitative tastes of high-power publishers, Vonnegut's fiction limped along for years on the genuinely democratic basis of family magazine and pulp paperback circulation. Then in the late 1960s, as the culture as a whole exploded, Vonnegut was able to write and publish a novel, Slaughterhouse Five, which so perfectly caught America's transformative mood that its story and structure became best-selling metaphors for the new age. '"Writing in Critique, Wayne D. McGinnis comments that in Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut 'avoids framing his story in linear narration, choosing a circular structure.
Kurt Vonnegut is the author of Slaughterhouse Five and he was a soldier during World War II. Slaughterhouse Five is a fictional story of what a man named Billy Pilgrim went through as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. Vonnegut experienced the bombing of Dresden in Germany when was a prisoner of war. Vonnegut's prison in Dresden, Germany was a slaughterhouse that the Germans forced the prisoners of war to live in. He relates some of his experiences during World War II to help him create the fictional story about Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim is a fictional character that Vonnegut created in order to somehow tell his store of Dresden. Most of Billy Pilgrim's experiences are similar to what Vonnegut actually experienced as a prisoner of war during World War II. PTSD is a disorder that disrupts someone's life keeping them from having an normal life because of a traumatic event that they experienced. PTSD is very common among soldiers returning from war because they went through many traumatic events during their deployment. It is very obvious to see that Vonnegut and Billy Pilgrim are suffering from PTSD after their deployment in Germany during World War II.
“The scalding water of the delousing station brings on a flashback of Billy being bathed by his mother, but his gurgling and cooing is then interrupted by a flash-forward of Billy playing golf and Billy being told that he is ‘trapped in another blob of amber’ and has no free will. In both incidents, Billy accepts the lure of infancy but is propelled back into adult hood” (Page
He enlisted in the army in 1942 during World War II. In 1944, his mother committed suicide on Mother’s day. When he returned to fight at the battle of Bulge, he was captured to be a prisoner of war and moved to Dresden. While waiting in Dresden, the Allied forces leveled the city by bombing. The bomb killed thousands of people. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the survivors. The book Slaughterhouse- Five was published in March of 1969. Vonnegut based this book off of events that he had gone through. He tells his story through the main character, Billy Pilgrim. Although, the novel may be too realistic and mature, students should be allowed to read the book to be able to see life through someone else’s shoes. To be allowed to see what the real world is in other people’s
Slaughterhouse Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut is an anti war novel told by the narrator who is a minor character in the story. Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who has come "unstuck in time. "The bombing of Dresden is what destroyed Billy. Dresden’s destruction shows the destruction of people who fought in the war: the all the people who died. Some people, like the main character, Billy Pilgrim, are not able to function normally like before because of what they saw, because of their experience. Throughout the book, Billy starts hallucinating about his experiences with the Tralfamadorians: he wants to escape the world which was destroyed by war, a war that he does not and cannot understand. Vonnegut uses the technique of repetition.. The main repetition is “so it goes” which is told after anything related to death, he also uses other repetitions throughout the book. The major theme of the story is the Destructiveness of War. Vonnegut uses repetition to reinforce the theme of the story.
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.
The main event that leads Billy to all his confusion is the time he spent in Dresden and witnessed the fire-bombings that constantly pop in his head along with pictures of all the innocent people Billy saw that fled to Dresden the "safe spot" from the war before the bombing. When Billy sees the faces of the innocent children it represents his fear of the situation. Billy can't acknowledge the fact that they were innocent and they were killed by Americans, Americans soldiers just like himself. The biggest issue Billy cannot come to grasp with is why the bombings took place. That question has no answer; it's just something that happened that Billy couldn't get over. During all Billy's travels back to Dresden he couldn't change what had really happened there although that was the closure he was looking for. Dresden purely represents Bill's past and fears of the truth about what happened.
Slaughterhouse Five is not a book that should be glanced over and discarded away like a dirty rag. Slaughterhouse Five is a book that should be carefully analyzed and be seen as an inspiration to further improve the well-being of mankind. Vonnegut makes it clear that an easy way to improve mankind is to see war not as a place where legends are born, but rather, an event to be avoided. Intelligent readers and critics alike should recognize Vonnegut’s work and see to it that they make an effort to understand the complexities behind the human condition that lead us to war.
Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel written by Kurt Vonnegurt that tells about a soldier named Billy Pilgrim and his WW2 experiences and time travels. Vonnegut is mostly known for his work on Slaughterhouse-Five. He also brings a nonfiction element to the story with the use of the Dresden bombing as a focal point, as he witnessed it firsthand. The novel is also an example of how war can destroy someone mentally as well as physically. Billy ends up suffering from PTSD as a result of what he experienced during war.
Kurt Vonnegut is a well known American author. Most of his pieces of writing were written in the 1950s, 1960s and in the early 1970s. Vonnegut writes a lot from personal experiences and in most of his books he references his experiences. He is well known for, but not limited to, his famous novels. He also has a handful of well known short stories. One of his biggest, most famous books that he wrote is titled Slaughterhouse Five. Kurt Vonnegut’s style uses many techniques to develop the concept of theme in his novels. He does a great job of helping his readers understand and feel the mood of his stories while they are reading his pieces of writing.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five the main character Billy Pilgrim experiences few emotions during his time in World War II. His responses to people and events lack intensity or passion. Throughout the novel Billy describes his time travel to different moments in his life, including his experience with the creatures of Tralfamadore and the bombing of Dresden. He wishes to die during most of the novel and is unable to connect with almost anyone on Earth. The fictional planet Tralfamadore appears to be Billy’s only way of escaping the horrors of war, and acts as coping mechanism. Billy seems to be a soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as he struggles to express feelings and live in his reality. At the beginning of the novel the narrator proposes his reason for writing the book is to explain what happened in the Dresden fire bombing, yet he focuses on Billy’s psyche more than the bombing itself. PTSD prevents Billy from living a healthy life, which shows readers that the war does not stop after the fighting is over and the aftermath is ongoing. Billy Pilgrim’s story portrays the bombing and war in a negative light to readers, as Vonnegut shows the damaging effects of war on an individual, such as misperception of time, disconnect from peers, and inability to feel strong emotions, to overall create a stronger message.