Free Will, Warfare, Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

Free Will, Warfare, Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

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Free Will and Warfare in Slaughterhouse Five
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...


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...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.

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