The Theme of Time in Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

The Theme of Time in Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

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The Theme of Time in Slaughterhouse-Five


Many writers in history have written science fiction novels and had great success with them, but only a few have been as enduring over time as Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Slaughterhouse-Five is a personal novel which draws upon Vonnegut's experience's as a scout in World War Two, his capture and becoming a prisoner of war, and his witnessing of the fire bombing of Dresden in February of 1945 (the greatest man-caused massacre in history). The novel is about the life and times of a World War Two veteran named Billy Pilgrim. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut uses structure and point of view to portray the theme that time is relative.

The way Kurt Vonnegut structures Slaughterhouse-Five aids in the portrayal of the theme that time is relative. The novel is broke down into two parts: Vonnegut's story about the novel and the life story of Billy Pilgrim. The life story of Billy Pilgrim which is "presented as a series of episodes with no chronological order" . This mirrors the structure of the novel which has a beginning, middle, and end but not in there respective places. (Dawley 1) Billy states numerous times in the novel that he has become "unstuck in time" and that the time travel periods "aren't necessarily fun". (Vonnegut 23) While the reader never leaves the main plot line of the fire-bombing of Dresden for very long, Billy still travels alot. Billy "has seen his birth and death many times" and "all the events in between". (Vonnegut 23) The reader learns that "the things Billy Pilgrim" cannot change are "the past, the present, and the future". (Vonnegut 60) Many of the time warps are to his later-life as an optometrist. During his life as an optometrist he marries one o...


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...y the good moments and bad as well that life brings to us. (Dunstan 1)

Slaughterhouse-Five gives the reader insight on the meaning of life, time, and war. The thought of humans being able to view their lives moments concurrently and not linearly is erroneous to the reader, yet Kurt Vonnegut brings into the reader's head the idea of time being relative and only existing in human's imaginations.

Works Cited

ClassicNote. Insanity of war in Slaughterhouse-Five. 29 Jan 2001. http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/slaughterhousefive/essays/insanitywar.html

Dawley, Jason. The use of Fragmentation in Slaughterhouse-Five. 29 Jan 2001.

http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/4953/kv_fragmentation.html>.

Dunston, Brittany. Destruction of Dresden, destruction of Vonnegut's dream. 29 Jan 2001.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York:Dell, 1991.

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