Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five Great artists have the ability to step back from society and see the absurd circus that their world has become. Such satirists use their creative work to reveal the comic elements of an absurd world and incite a change in society; examples include Stanley Kubrick’s film, Dr. Strangelove, and Joseph Heller’s novel, Catch-22. Both works rose above their more serious counterparts to capture the critical voice of a generation dissatisfied with a nation of warmongers. Completing this triumvirate of anti-war classics is Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.
I. Author- 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.
Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, uses the biblical allusion of Lot’s wife looking back on the destroyed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to parallel the story of Billy Pilgrim during the war and his experience after, when he returns to the United States. Although the reference is brief, it has profound implications to the portrayal of America during World War II, especially the bombing of Dresden. Although Lot’s wife’s action dooms her to turn into a pillar of salt, the narrator emphasizes her choice to indicate the importance of being compassionate and having hindsight. Ultimately, Slaughterhouse-Five critiques the American social attitude to disregard the unjust nature of its actions in World War II. Furthermore, Vonnegut’s novel explicates this by elucidating the horrors of war—especially in regard to the massacre of innocence, how it leaves the soldiers stagnant when they return home, and leaves them empty with an American Dream that cannot be fulfilled. In order to combat violence, the novel stresses that one must hold human life to a higher value and be compassionate towards others; America must acknowledge its mistakes so that the soldiers who fought and died for her so that the soldiers may move on.
Festa, Conrad. “Vonnegut’s Satire.” Vonnegut in America: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut. Vol. 5. 1977. 133-50. The GaleGroup. Web. 10 March. 2014.
Kurt Vonnegut Served as a sensitive cell in the organism of American Society during the 1960's. His work alerted the public about the absurdity of modern warfare and an increasingly mechanized and impersonal society in which humans were essentially worthless and degenerated. The satirical tone and sardonic humor allowed people to read his works and laugh at their own misfortune.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was an ordinary man, a great father and an extraordinary writer. He was born in indianapolis Indiana. As a fourth generation German-American, he would later serve in the Second World War. He had the capability to include spaceships,vulgarity, and childish characteristics while still causing his readers to learn crucial life lessons. Yet the most interesting thing is what was behind his curtain. It is what captivated, intrigued, and how he analyzed the Midwestern region that would eventually differentiate him from other authors. Kurt Vonnegut was inspired by technological advances, the effects of WWII, and humanity.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergeron. New York: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1961. Print
Meeter, Glenn. "Vonnegut's Formal and Moral Otherworldliness: Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five," in Jerome Klinkowitz & John Somer (eds.), The Vonnegut Statement. USA: Delacourte Press/ Seymour Lawrence, 1973, 204-220.