Kurt Vonnegut followed many principles in his writings. He claimed that “people do not realize that they are happy” (PBS NOW Transcript). Feeling that people had the wrong view on war, he felt that he needed to get the facts straight. Vonnegut believed that art can come from awful situations, and that the truth is not always easy to look at. Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse – Five to tell of his experience in the bombing of Dresden, as a prisoner in war and the atrocities that occurred.
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.
Slaughterhouse-five strives to remember the tragedy of the bombing of Dresden. Kurt Vonnegut constructs his novel around a main character who becomes “unstuck in time” (23). Billy Pilgrim’s life is told out of order, which gives him a different perspective than the rest of the world. Billy lives through his memories, and revisits events in his life at random times and without warning. Vonnegut introduces Billy Pilgrim to the Tralfamadorian way of thinking about memory and time so that he can cope with being unstuck in time. The Tralfamadorian ideology is set up as an alternative to the human ideology of life. In the novel Slaughterhouse-five, Kurt Vonnegut constructs a reality where memory is unproductive through the Tralfamadorian
This quote in the first chapter of the book sets the overall tone. The author Tim O’Brien uses his language through out the book in an extremely straightforward manner. He does not sugar coat the way going to war and being in a war is. He does not use stories of heroes,
In relation to the rest of the novel, this passage is the “happy” beginning that hooks the reader, who only later realizes that this is a facade covering the horrors of the war. It creates a sense of hope in the reader
“War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.” (80)
This kind-of off the wall opinion can be interpreted as people being physically stuck in this world, that people don't have any choice over what mankind as a whole, do and what people head for. The only thing one can do is think about everything, but it won't affect anything. This idea appears many times throughout the novel. This is one of the examples, when Billy proposes marriage to Valencia:
Could the cruelest, most punishing soldier and a peaty chaplain’s assistant be at all alike? How are they different? When reading Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim and Roland Weary are some of the first characters you will meet. One is a no-life and the other a die hard army man. The characters are different yet very similar. Billy and Roland are similar even if they don’t realize it.
Imagine creating something with the best intentions just to have someone else burn it up for reasons you weren't getting across. Most would feel disrespected and decide to never share their ideas with society again, to prevent further humility. Kurt Vonnegut was a victim to this subjection, when his books were burned in a furnace after Charles McCarthy, head of the school board at Drake High School, thought it was too corrupt for the education agenda subjected to student's. Taking this into consideration, Vonnegut responded to this attack by writing a letter containing uses of pathos to denounce McCarthy actions towards his books.
Kurt Vonnegut conveys the theme of imbecility, mainly through war, and how it may cause the deterioration of individuals’ well-beings oftentimes leading to societal pressures and corruption. In chapter 1, the narrator elucidates to a conversation in the past with Harrison Starr, the movie icon, who makes a profound statement about conflict and the narrator’s profession: writing. Vonnegut employs a metaphor to express how hindering wars will always remain as an impossibility since it exists as a part of human nature and emotions. This compares to halting a glacier’s path since one person cannot make even the slightest of impacts in a lifetime, no matter how rigorously they try. Furthermore, the metaphorical comparison between wars and
Kurt Vonnegut is the author of the book Slaughterhouse Five. Of course it was controversial, and still is. The first chapter addresses the conflicts of creating such a novel in the first chapter of the book. In the book Harrison Starr questioned Vonnegut asking if his book were to be a war book. Vonnegut said it was and Starr “Why don’t you make an anti-glacier book instead?” (4). Vonnegut believed what Starr meant by that was wars, like glaciers, are as unpredictable and unstoppable. (4). As one gets farther into the book it completely changed dynamics. The novel then goes into the story of Billy Pilgrim instead of the autobiographical view from the first chapter. The three main literary elements in which will be focusing on analysing is theme,
As long as there has been war, those involved have managed to get their story out. This can be a method of coping with choices made or a way to deal with atrocities that have been witnessed. It can also be a means of telling the story of war for those that may have a keen interest in it. Regardless of the reason, a few themes have been a reoccurrence throughout. In ‘A Long Way Gone,’ ‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ and ‘Novel without a Name,’ three narrators take the readers through their memories of war and destruction ending in survival and revelation. The common revelation of these stories is one of regret. Each of these books begins with the main character as an innocent, patriotic soldier or civilian and ends in either the loss of innocence and regret of choices only to be compensated with as a dire warning to those that may read it. These books are in fact antiwar stories meant not to detest patriotism or pride for one’s country or way of life, but to detest the conditions that lead to one being so simpleminded to kill another for it. The firebombing of Dresden, the mass execution of innocent civilians in Sierra Leone and a generation of people lost to the gruesome and outlandish way of life of communism and Marxism should be enough to convince anyone. These stories serve as another perspective for the not-so-easily convinced.
Another example of this technique, which is frequent all over the novel is the topic of three musketeers which Vonnegut recalls in the first chapter when one of his colleagues is eating a chocolate called “a three Musketeers Candy bar”, he mentions it again in chapter five page 129, when Billy’s wife Valencia eats the same candy bar. It seems that the name of this chocolate reminds Vonnegut about the war and his friends which used to call their little group in the war “The Three Musketeers”. Slaughterhouse-Five attacks the preconceived belief that war and its members represent bravery, glory or heroism.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut takes places on two contrasting planets. One is Earth, where war tears apart families and minds, and the other is Tralfamadore, where supernatural alien beings share their extended knowledge of the world. Vonnegut uses the two planets, Earth and Tralfamadore, to show the contrasting ideas of chaos and order, and that human actions have limitations that render them helpless against a meaningless universe.
Slaughterhouse-Five, a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut, tells the story of the devastating effects of war on a man, Billy Pilgrim, who joins the army fight in World War II. The semi-autobiographical novel sheds light on one of history’s most tragic, yet rarely spoken of events, the 1945 fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany.