Slaughterhouse Five is an oddly charming, anti-war book with a rather relevant historical background written by Kurt Vonnegut, who experienced first hand the events in Dresden during World War II. Vonnegut was a prisoner in Dresden, Germany, and at the time Dresden was a relatively defenseless and militarily bleak city. "The city was fire bombed so successfully (and senselessly) that 135,000 civilians were killed in the violent fire storm" (McKean). The suffering in Dresden was so horrible that writers, artists and historians have had a hard time conveying how horrible it actually was. Vonnegut wrote about his experiences forming the story throwing several drafts away, and in the small two hundred and ten pages he tells his story.
Because Vonnegut had a hard time writing about his own experiences he uses the fictional narrative of Billy Pilgrim that seeks to both understand and evade the past by using what people say rather than what they do. For instance, his narrator is in Dresden during the bombing and firestorm, he learns what happened through eavesdropping on whispering guards, a way of toning down the violence that Vonnegut witnessed. It is worth remembering that Vonnegut describes himself often feeling speechless when thinking about the bombing of Dresden. For instance, in the first chapter of Slaughterhouse Five "I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought too it would be a masterpiece, or at least make me a lot of money since the subject was so big. But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then … And not many words come now, either." (Vonnegut 2). It is cle...
... middle of paper ...
...st moments through time travel although that might seem misguided that is a deeply human response to loss. In its way, Slaughterhouse Five is a novel about someone who wants to go back to a world before their education.
One of the most famous aspects of the novel is that Vonnegut repeats the Tralfamadorian phrase "so it goes" each time he mentions a death in the novel. It 's a brutal and unsentimental way of coping with death, and therein lies its power. How are we supposed to respond to Billy Pilgrim 's mind being destroyed by wartime trauma? How is he supposed to respond to it? So it goes. But it 's clear in Slaughterhouse Five that Vonnegut does not want readers to just accept traumatic events created by weapons of mass destruction, as part of human life. The novel is so intentionally unsentimental that he is aiming to shock the readers out of passive perspective.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Slaughterhouse-Five and the Impact of War on the Individual War effects people in multiple ways, some worse than others. “Studies suggest that between twenty and thirty percent of returning veterans suffer, to varying degrees, from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental-health condition triggered by some type of terror, or a traumatic brain injury, which occurs when the brain is jolted so violently that it collides with the inside of the skull, causing psychological damage (Finkel 36).” Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most common form of affect on an individual involved in warfare, whether it is the victim or the perpetrator.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1035 words (3 pages)
- 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. Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, where he was reared. His father was an architect, as his grandfather had been.... [tags: essays research papers]
896 words (2.6 pages)
- Slaughterhouse-Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut, is an anti-war book about the firebombing of Dresden, which the author witnessed in World War II. In the book, the reader is introduced with the main character Billy Pilgrim, who seems to have come "unstuck in time," rendering him the ability to travel or relive the past, present, and future (Vonnegut). Billy learns later on, from an alien race named the Tralfamadorians, that all time exists simultaneously. Vonnegut begins the book, however, with anecdotes from when he was just starting to write the book and how writing it led him to develop new ideas on war.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
2023 words (5.8 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.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1232 words (3.5 pages)
- Most novels are not able to adequately present two distinct themes that oppose each other; Slaughterhouse-Five is not most novels. It is unique in almost every way, especially with respect to its themes. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut develops, to the surprise of the reader, the themes of both the necessity of the concept of free will and its illusion. While these themes seem to contradict each other, they are also complimentary. Kurt Vonnegut’s unique writing style enables the reader to perceive both of these themes in the text.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1867 words (5.3 pages)
- One of my favorite books is Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and I think that it is an excellent example of finding order in disorder. Vonnegut uses the main character, Billy, and the Tralfamadorians’ sense of time, to find order in the chaos that was the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut has given me a new outlook on my life heading into the future and has helped me to find order in the chaos that is life’s misfortunes. Vonnegut starts off the book by saying “I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden.” This is important because Vonnegut is acknowledging that he can’t just write about what happened to him during Dresden because “There is nothing intelligent t... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Death]
1077 words (3.1 pages)
- Kurt Vonnegut has built a universe for Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five where Billy’s cruel, unforgiving reality is contrasted by a philosophical utopia where he has learned to operate without the pains of being human. Within this self-described ‘telegraphic’ and ‘schizophrenic’ novel, Vonnegut manages to swing the reader halfway across the galaxy to a planet inhabited by a plunger-like race called the Tralfamadorians, take them into the harrowing depths of a POW camp, and show you a man who is increasingly coming undone at the seams after having lived with the psychological terrors of the Dresden bombing.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]
2076 words (5.9 pages)
- Critic Roland Barthes has stated that “Literature is the question minus the answer.” In literature, the author of a story always presents a central question and several themes. The readers of a story are forced to create their own opinions and interpretations about the themes of the book in order to answer the central question. In Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the story introduces the central question: Is war a result of humanity’s fate or humanity’s free will. The author’s treatment of this question is important to the reader’s understanding of the work as a whole both literally and figuratively by allowing for the development of several important themes throughout the story.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1044 words (3 pages)
- “How nice – to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive” (Vonnegut 50). In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut introduces the genuine danger war implements on the innocent minds of soldiers by introducing Billy Pilgrim as a prisoner and Dresden bombing survivor. Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel appropriates around a science fiction theme where Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck” in time. This allows Billy to experience his life disorderly. "Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren 't necessarily fun.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1430 words (4.1 pages)
- In his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut dips his words in satire and sprinkles them with hidden themes that can only be understood if one takes the necessary steps to seek them out. Upon dissecting these themes, I have come to find Vonnegut’s novel as one that unveils the mediocre reality of how society acts and thinks and offers suggestions on how the it should actually be. Such themes are also found in other pieces of literature, that when compared, evoke a better understanding of Slaughterhouse-Five.... [tags: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Kilgore Trout]
1133 words (3.2 pages)