Essay on Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut

Essay on Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut

Length: 1867 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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.
The first theme in this novel is the illusion of free will. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim can travel to different points in his life, past, present and future. He knows exactly what is going to happen in the future, what his life going to be. This is called theological fatalism; if one person has infallible knowledge of the future then the future must occur in that fashion, eradicating the idea of free will. Vonnegut uses several techniques to demonstrate this theme.
The first way this theme is expressed is through the Tralfamadorians. The Tralfamadorians have a unique view of time and space:
Billy Pilgrim says that the Universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to the creatures from Tralfamadore. The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti. (Vonnegut 110)
Tralfamadorians can view every moment from the past, present, and future, with the future being as unchangeable as the past. They can visit each moment as they will, and each moment in time exists simultaneously with the other. It is because of this that the Tralfamadorians simply do not care about death; the person may be dead in one...


... middle of paper ...


...free will in the same way we need food and water. Additionally, Vonnegut inserts himself into the novel at certain points. This grounds the novel but also serves to bring the first chapter back to the front of the reader’s brain. It reminds us of everything he said in the beginning and of why he wrote the book.
The themes of the necessity of the concept of free will and its illusion are well presented in Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut’s writing style and structural techniques make this novel a unique experience, that leaves you wondering how an idea can be both contradictory and complimentary. He pushes you to extend his ideas to engulf the nature of humanity and its own contradiction; this is, perhaps, the inspiration for writing a fitting epitaph for Billy and him: . A quote both ironic and literal; an interesting way to think about life and death. So it goes.

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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better 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]

Better Essays
1221 words (3.5 pages)