Slaughterhouse-Five

Title: Slaughterhouse-Five

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1968

Overview

Slaughterhouse-Five Literary Guide

Written by the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut and first published in 1969, Slaughterhouse-Five—or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, as it is also called—is an anti-war novel. The novel narrates the experience of the protagonist Billy Pilgrim—who is born in the same year as the author in 1922—from his early days to his years spent in the military as an American soldier during World War II to the post-war days. The plot captures the horrendous Allied Bombing of Dresden toward the end of the war, where thousands of civilians perished. It revolves around Billy’s survival of the bombing as he was then captured by the German Army, which is a lived experience of Vonnegut himself. After his return from the war, he had been writing about his experiences at Dresden but could not pen down anything that he or his publishers liked. The first chapter of the novel recounts this difficulty for Vonnegut. Kurt Vonnegut and first published in 1969, Slaughterhouse-Five—or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, as it is also called—is an anti-war novel. The novel narrates the experience of the protagonist Billy Pilgrim—who is born in the same year as the author in 1922—from his early days to his years spent in the military as an American soldier during World War II to the post-war days. The plot captures the horrendous Allied Bombing of Dresden toward the end of the war, where thousands of civilians perished. It revolves around Billy’s survival of the bombing as he was then captured by the German Army, which is a lived experience of Vonnegut himself. After his return from the war, he had been writing about his experiences at Dresden but could not pen down anything that he or his publishers liked. The first chapter of the novel recounts this difficulty for Vonnegut.

The novel is narrated in a nonlinear manner with the protagonist often traveling through time. A fundamental question that arises from the novel is the tactical necessity of the bombing. It remains a subject of debate as the bombing occurred in 1945 toward the end of the war. However, the novel is not restricted only to the question of “tactical necessity” and delves deeper to explore the horrors of the war and the tragic futility of the concept of war. Sunday Book Review of the New York Times called the novel an instance of “unmatched moral clarity” and “one of the most enduring anti-war novels of all time.”

Slaughterhouse-Five Biography

Slaughterhouse-Five Background

Slaughterhouse-Five Characters

Slaughterhouse-Five Summary and Analysis

Slaughterhouse-Five Themes

Slaughterhouse-Five Quotes

Slaughterhouse-Five Discussion Questions

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