Themes of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt vonnegut and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Themes of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt vonnegut and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Length: 1423 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Themes of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt vonnegut and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

In the books, Slaughter House 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller there
are many themes that at first don’t appear to be related but once given a closer look have
striking similarities. Both books are about one mans experience through World War II,
one being a fighter pilot and another being a soldier. Each man is known as an anti-war
hero. They do not agree with the war and do not find it appropriate to fight for it.
Neither of the two men was the average “John Wayne” war hero that fights and dies for
his country. This is what makes these two books stand out from other war books. Both
of these books also were used during the Vietnam War as anti-war books denouncing the
war.

One major theme that comes up in both of these books is the theme of no free will.
In Slaughterhouse 5 Vonnegut proclaims through the narrator that there is no such thing
as free will and that all things in life are predestined. That no matter what we chose to do
we really aren’t choosing to do it at all and that the choice was already made. In Catch 22
the theme is the same just brought to our attention in a different way. Catch 22 is a
paradox, leaving no way of escaping from a dilemma. No matter what we do or say we
can’t escape it thus leaving us with no free will. Catch 22 is best described in the book
when Yossarian states, You don’t have to fly anymore missions if you’re crazy, but you
have to ask first and if you ask than you’re not crazy because anyone that wants to get out
of combat is not crazy (Heller 46). The utter simplicity of this “catch” at one-point makes
Yossarian let out a whistle. So in essence both of these characters are plagued with the
fact that they have no free will. Billy Pilgrim because everything in life is predestined so
he has no say in what goes on and Yossarian because he has to keep flying more missions
because of Catch 22.

Another major theme that comes across in these books is the anti-war hero. Both
main characters are the exact opposite of what we would consider war heroes. Yossarian
has no intention of laying down his life for his country and thinks anyone that would is
utterly stupid. He many times in the book tries to get out of flying more missions by
admitting himself to the hospital although he is not sick and ...


... middle of paper ...


...how the
ridiculousness of war. They were written to share with everybody that sometimes it isn’t
the soldier who kills the most enemy or the pilot who bombs the most targets that are the
heroes of the war but it is those people that stand up and proclaim the utter stupidity of
war. The heroes are those who stand up for what they believe is right even if that means
disobeying an order. These books were written most of all to share with us that war is
wrong and is a waste of valuable lives. They convinced us that all free will and sanity is
lost in war and that it can destroy men not just physically but also mentally. I think Heller
put it best when he described what Yossarian was going through when his friend was
dying in his arms,
“Yossarian was cold, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over
him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the
messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entails. Man was matter, that was
Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he will fall. Set fire to him and he will
burn. Bury him and he will rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is
garbage

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

War in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller both have a striking resemblance in the themes of anti-war and of free will. Both don’t come into full force right in the beginning but eventually become more evident. Both novels focus on one character throughout the entire novel, and each protagonist is affected by all the events around them. It changes their perspective and how they view life as a whole. Both Billy in Slaughterhouse Five and Yossarian in Catch -22, dislike war and are known as anti-war heroes....   [tags: slaughterhouse-five, kurt vonnegut]

Strong Essays
1089 words (3.1 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)

Kurt Vonnegut 's Slaughterhouse Five Essay

- In a world that has become callous to cruelty and harshness, authors began to develop characters which embodied those who were struggling to cope with growing inhumanity and impassivity. Such authors are as postmodernists. Fragmentation and paradoxes characterize their novels. Within postmodernism, the use of science fiction allows the writer to demonstrate worldviews while avoiding the imposition of perverted casualty upon the subject. One author who has mastered the era of postmodernism is Kurt Vonnegut....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]

Strong Essays
1666 words (4.8 pages)

Kurt Vonnegut 's Slaughterhouse Five Essay

- 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]

Strong Essays
1044 words (3 pages)

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

- 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]

Strong Essays
1133 words (3.2 pages)

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay example

- In his satirical novel Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut details the amusing, awful, and absurd happenings in the life of Billy Pilgrim. Not only does Vonnegut entertain the reader with the story of Billy Pilgrim, but he also conveys to the reader his own ideas including the irrationality of war and the concept of fatalism, all with a humorous tone. The entire novel, including its themes and its comedy, can be encapsulated in the scene in which Billy Pilgrim, having been placed in the prison compound for captured British soldiers, goes outside at night and unknowingly wanders to the latrine....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

- In Slaughterhouse Five written by Kurt Vonnegut, the plot focuses on a man who tends to regress back to his childhood, and earlier life using three important themes. These important themes are the destructiveness of war, the illusion of free will, and the importance of sight. In this novel, Kurt Vonnegut reflects on his experiences in the war in 1945 as a prisoner of war. This man is named Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim is a former prisoner of war who tends to be stuck in the same mindset as before....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kilgore Trout, Kurt Vonnegut]

Strong Essays
1025 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

- Kurt Vonnegut Junior is a praised author as well as a veteran of World War II, his well-known novel, Slaughterhouse Five, allowing him to put his experiences of the war into writing, though it’s much more fictionalized than one would think. Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war novel that comments on various topics of war; how war desensitized soldiers to death (both during the war and post-war), the gruesome daily life the prisoners of wars carried, and indirect advocation against the Vietnam War....   [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]

Strong Essays
1028 words (2.9 pages)

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)

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

- 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....   [tags: Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five Essays]

Strong Essays
3845 words (11 pages)