A Report On Several Of Vonnegut's Works.

1813 words - 7 pages

Kurt Vonnegut is considered one of the more influential writers of the twentieth century. At first, he was pegged as a mere pulp/science fiction writer by his contemporaries, but he later gained popularity among college students of the Vietnam generation. His unique style led to some of his work being taught in high school and college writing courses, and he is now often considered an early figure in the movement known as postmodernism. Postmodern writers encompass a number of varying techniques that have only recently been developed, but one thing that links them all is their highly individualized styles. Also, most postmodern writers tend to break convention in one way or another in order to express their ideas more clearly.Vonnegut, while often classified as a science fiction writer, never considered himself to be one. As he puts it, he "learned he was a sci-fi writer from the critics" He does, however, convey many ideas about science in his work, or as he likes to say, he "notices technology." More accurately, Vonnegut uses science fiction ideas to convey meaning about life now. Vonnegut is pessimistic and darkly sarcastic, but he generally conveys a sense of compassion towards human beings. Vonnegut's "essential outlook on modern life is... that human beings ought not to be valued for what or how much they produce [like machines are] but for the simple fact that they are human beings and as such deserve to be treated with dignity." (Verde 87)Vonnegut enlisted into the army in 1943, an action that would forever change his life. In November he joined the 106th infantry division, fought at the battle of the bulge, and on December 22nd was captured by the Germans. His experiences as a POW would haunt him for many years to come, especially his miraculous survival of the Dresden Massacre, the subject of his book Slaughter-House-Five (Verde 86-88). This novel is Vonnegut's most widely recognized work, and it brought him the literary recognition that his earlier guise of science fiction writer denied him.The massacre he speaks about took place February 13, 1945. The city Vonnegut was being held in, Dresden, was supposedly an open city, meaning that it was free of military targets and was therefore protected from allied bombing. Because of this, its population had been doubled by refugees fleeing other, unprotected cities. Dresden was not, however, completely free of military targets, although there were not many of value. Late in the war, the decision was made by the allies to completely demolish the city in order to lower the morale of the German army by destroying many architectural masterpieces within the city. The fire bombing lasted two days and changed the city into what Vonnegut called "the face of the moon." Nearly everything was destroyed, and everyone was killed. Even the moderate estimates place the civilian death toll at 135,000. That is twice the number killed at Hiroshima. Vonnegut and his fellow POW's were employed to dig bodies from...

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