Kurt Vonnegut 's Slaughterhouse Five Essay

Kurt Vonnegut 's Slaughterhouse Five Essay

Length: 1044 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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.
Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five attempts to come to terms with the bombing of Dresden, which killed about 135,000 people, mostly civilians, and destroyed one of Europe 's most populated cities that was not known to have the presence of troops during World War II. Kurt Vonnegut attempts to come to terms with the bombing through the description of his own personal war experiences as a war veteran, and through the narrative of Billy Pilgrim, a fictional character whose path intersects Vonnegut’s own path throughout the story at certain points.
An understanding of Dresden historically is very significant in the understanding of the impact and figurative meaning of war and humanity’s own destruction. Dresden is located in northern Germany and was known to be a cultural center filled with historical museums and historic buildings. Whatever the reasons were for the Allies bombing of Dresden, the fact is that the city was completely destroyed and innocent civilians were killed to a great extent for something that really wasn’t in their hands. The ...


... middle of paper ...


...xisting at the same time, anyone is capable of moving between moments of life and death and capable of becoming “unstuck in time.” This motivates the novel’s acceptance of death as part of life.

Vonnegut’s discussion of the Dresden firebombing similarly wishes to dramatize their horrors in order that future violence might be prevented. The end of the novel starkly captures this spirit. The final scene, presented partially as Billy’s memory, is also a memory of Vonnegut’s: burying the bodies of Dresden in mass graves, and when those graves are full, burning the bodies with flamethrowers. It is an image Vonnegut has taken the whole novel to give us—a report of what events “really were” on the ground in Dresden. And though it is a shocking scene, it is a successful act of reporting and bearing witness. Vonnegut has finally given us access to his experience in Dresden.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- 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]

Strong Essays
2023 words (5.8 pages)

Essay on Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut

- 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]

Strong Essays
1867 words (5.3 pages)

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

- 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]

Strong Essays
1077 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- “Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.” Stated Abraham Lincoln. That quotes applies to Slaughterhouse-Five because even when you think you have conquered something and achieve the victory doesn’t mean that it will last long. Billy Pilgrim is the protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Billy Pilgrim is non-heroic in the anti-war novel which makes the theme of the book Slaughterhouse-Five a man who is “unstuck” in time. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is an anti-war novel....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1981 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- How has Slaughterhouse Five borrowed from other texts to emphasize the theme of war. The novel Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a narrative about a man named Billy Pilgrim. Billy participates in World War II and the novel follows his life and focuses on his reaction to the war and his travels to an extraterrestrial planet called Tralfamadore. Many speculate that this book reflects Vonnegut’s feelings about war and have drawn parallels between Vonnegut and Billy Pilgrim. Kurt Vonnegut has the characters read various texts throughout Slaughterhouse Five to emphasize his feelings about war....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
807 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut

- 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]

Strong Essays
2076 words (5.9 pages)

Essay about Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, he talks about World War II and the bombing of Dresden. He writes about this historical event through the character Billy Pilgrim, Billy is drafted into the army at age twenty-one during World War II. He is captured and sent to Luxembourg and then later Dresden as a prisoner. Throughout the novel Vonnegut constantly ridiculous Billy. He describes Billy as a character that has no individualism and no choice in anything that happens in his life. Billy is used to show that everything happens because of fate....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1845 words (5.3 pages)

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

- Craycraft 1 Miller Craycraft Teacher Name English I Honors Summer Assignment July 20, 2015 Slaughterhouse Five Slaughterhouse Five, a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut, is a story of Billy Pilgrim. This antiwar, science fiction novel takes place approximately between 1945-1968 in the United States. The novel primarily follows Billy Pilgrim on a journey of sometimes real life and other times post traumatic war memories of being in a meat locker in Dresden, where he narrowly escapes death....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
944 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut tries to make sense of a seemingly meaningless world by creating a novel whose narrative is more a conjunction of events instead of a linear story. Vonnegut beings his novel with a confession about why he wrote this book, he starts, “all this happened more or less” (Vonnegut 1). As a reader it is alarms are signaled when the author themselves makes an omission about the reality of the tale about to be told. He spends the first chapter giving an autobiographical view into what shaped his life and how this book needed to be written....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1813 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- In the 1960s, music and literature were commonly used to promote anti-war messages. People used novels, pamphlets, and songs, among other things, to get their opinions out into the world. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is considered one of these anti-war novels, “one of the greatest anti-war novels ever written” (The Folio Society) in fact, though it is not necessarily one of them. It tells the tale of war, without heroes; however, many individuals still consider it an anti-war novel because of this hero-less portrayal....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1221 words (3.5 pages)