Literary Analysis Of Slaughterhouse-Five

1232 Words5 Pages
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is an anti-war historical fiction novel about the bombings of Dresden, Germany in 1945 at the end of World War II. Slaughterhouse-Five succeeds as a historical fiction novel because it is fictional and imaginative but also set in the past, rooted in factual information about that time period and the events that took place in Dresden. Much of the historical information in Slaughterhouse-Five is considered eye-witness information because the novel is semi-autobiographical because Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden and he also survived the fire bombings. Vonnegut’s historical fiction novel is unique in its genre because the focus is on the effect of surviving the bombing of Dresden rather than explaining…show more content…
Kurt Vonnegut tells Billy Pilgrim’s story in a non-linear way as stories of World War II, Dresden, and living in comfortable suburban life are mixed in randomly with stories of Tralfamadorian aliens, free will, and the nature of time. Kurt Vonnegut uses the imaginative story of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five in order to help readers understand the complexity of historical events. The imaginative in Vonnegut’s novel explores the impact historical events can have on those involved, as well as the importance of perspective and bias of a writer articulating a historical event. Fictional and imaginative elements are abundant in Slaughterhouse-Five. The time travel and Billy Pilgrim’s interactions with the Tralfamadorians can help the reader understand the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder was not a recognized disorder after World War II. Billy exhibits many symptoms of PTSD, including hallucination and flashbacks. Billy’s mental state and the clear effect of the violence of Dresden has had on his mental state and daily life makes the reader…show more content…
Like his protagonist, Vonnegut was sixty feet underground as a German prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden. Due to Billy’s situation and being underground the reader gains only fragmented images of what truly occurred. Billy overhears German soldiers talking about the destruction: “there was a firestorm out there. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn” (Vonnegut, 227). This description gives the reader a limited perspective on the destruction, it clues us in on the severity of the obliteration, but it does not provide any reasoning behind it. Slaughterhouse-Five is one-sided and totally subjective. Vonnegut explicitly states in the first chapter that he is writing an anti-war novel. The historical context of when Slaughterhouse-Five was published is just as significant as the time period the novel is set in. Vonnegut published his famous anti-war novel during the Vietnam war, in 1969. The Vietnam war split Americans, many protested vehemently against the war, which they thought was completely unwarranted and unnecessarily
Open Document