Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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A known problem in today’s society is the tendency to avoid problems by ignoring them. This has been mocked and satirized by the media, studied by scientists, and become an almost humorous staple in modern culture. However, none of the reactions to this problem have come close to solving it. In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut tell the story of a war veteran, Billy Pilgrim, who jumps around time and is kidnapped by an alien race called the Tralfamadorians. He delves into themes of war and morality while offering a look into the mind of veterans after they return from war and how it affects them. Vonnegut explores humanity’s destruction of the Earth with a similar morbid yet dryly humorous approach in his poem Requiem. In both texts, Vonnegut…show more content…
The phrase “we know what we are doing” implies that we should have to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions, as we know that they are coming. However, the global response to these problems has been to ignore them as they haven’t significantly impacted us directly yet, and fixing them would mean giving up some degrees of luxury, like gasoline, water usage, and profit margins for companies. Vonnegut writes about the irony of the situation, as turning a blind eye to problems doesn’t solve them. He breaks the stanza apart at intentional points, leaving the last line as “we are doing” to emphasize that this isn’t a natural problem; it is one caused by humanity and it must be fixed by humanity. Vonnegut also inspects this societal occurrence in Slaughterhouse Five, using his alien fictional race, the Tralfamadorians, to expose the nonchalance with which many people act about war. He explains their argument, “... we have wars as horrible as any you've ever seen or read about. There isn't anything we can do about them, so we simply don't look at them. We ignore them. We spend…show more content…
In Requiem, he writes, “When the last living thing / has died on account of us”, foreshadowing a bleak future in which there is no life. The juxtaposition of life, symbolizing hope for a promising future, and death, which represents mankind destroying that hope through our actions, shows a clear divide between what the future could hold if the Earth is taken care of and what will entail if it continues to be treated as it is. This is even further emphasized by the organization of the stanza, by separating the line with the ‘last living thing’ and the line with it’s death on the hands of civilization. Vonnegut is implying that there are consequences to the actions of humanity - they just haven’t been felt directly yet, and the more they are ignored, the larger they become. In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut uses the phrase “So it goes” after every mention of death in the book. The casual acceptance of the phrase juxtaposed with the serious nature of death is used to satirically point out the common occurrence of trivializing death in order to avoid facing the emotional backlash that can come with facing death. The use of this phrase as a motif in the book, and so the repetition of the phrase, drives in the point to which humanity has managed to
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