Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007), one of the most inspirational twentieth century American writers. This book is unique in the fact that it can be classified as historical fiction, science fiction and an autobiography (certain parts of the protagonist’s life are similar to Vonnegut’s life) at the same time. Slaughterhouse Five follows the life and journeys of Billy Pilgrim, the main character in this non-linear novel. Billy has lived his life as a social outcast, a stereotypically weak and unpopular boy. He is a joke of a soldier when he is drafted into the Army and he soon becomes “unstuck in time”, or so he says. The book’s climax – the cruel and unnecessary bombing of Dresden, reflects the real life bombing of the city by Allied forces. The offensive killed about 25,000 people with the use of incendiary bombs and it destroyed a majority of the city in real life. Billy likely suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the book as a result of the horrific scenes he bore witness to, and this might help explain the mental imbalance that caused him to believe he had become “unstuck in time”. Many real-life veterans have undergone similar problems as a result of War; the greatest evil mankind has ever created. War was one of the major problems during Vonnegut’s time as World War II had recently ended and the Cold War (particularly the conflict in Vietnam) had begun to escalate. Vonnegut’s time in the army amplified his pacifist feelings and ever since he returned, he had planned to write about the horrendous images he had seen at Dresden. It took him 23 years to finally complete Slaughterhouse Five, a book in wh...
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...sion of literary techniques like Irony and Symbols/Symbolism in Slaughterhouse Five enhances Kurt Vonnegut’s argument that war can result in terrible devastation. Vonnegut used this book to strike a deep message in the heart of all his readers – war can ruin the lives of millions of people and it is possibly the greatest evil that man has ever created. He combines this message with additional literary styles like foreshadowing and flashbacks to successfully persuade and inspire his followers to stop future wars which can often have catalytic consequences. His teachings have been successful till date as the world has gotten a better place (for the most part at least) and this can mean nothing but positives for the upcoming generations.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five : A Children's Crusade. 1969. New York: Dell Publishing, 1991.
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