A Review Of Kurt Vonnegut's Life And It's Connection With His Book 'slaughterhouse Five".

2108 words - 8 pages

Kurt Vonnegut has achieved high acclaim for many years and is often described as a dark-humorist or satirist. He is the writer/moralist of modern times; his unique style has often been compared to that of Mark Twain. One characteristic that makes Vonnegut stand out is his style of addressing themes. Like many writers, Vonnegut's novels are each directed toward a specific idea; however, the books also incorporate morals and themes that are frequently repeated. One such theme deals with scientific progress and its affect on the human condition. Vonnegut is wary of technology and society's eagerness to develop it; he endeavors to impart the same sense of caution upon his readers.Kurt Vonnegut's ideals are not without basis. To begin with, he spent several months of World War Two as a POW in Germany. During this period, he witnessed the massacre of 135,000 civilians in Dresden (a larger massacre than Hiroshima). From this point on, he was skeptical about science and its contributions to humanity. As he put it,I thought... scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima. We killed everybody there. And I had just come home from... Dresden, which I'd seen burned to the ground. I have been a consistent pessimist ever since.(Verde 83)Vonnegut also spent several years working for the public relations department of a General Electric plant in New York. During this time, he witnessed the creation of many technological advancements. Yet the job only added to his pessimism about technology. He eventually left for Cape Cod, where he began to write for a living and produced his first novel, Player Piano.Not surprisingly, the caution-of-progress theme is central to this piece. This may be due to the freshness of his memories of the GE plant, or it may be caused by a continuing struggle with his POW experience.Player Piano is set at an unspecified time in the near future, some time after the "second industrial revolution." This revolution has developed machines and the manufacturing process to a point that has put almost everyone out of a job. Only managers and engineers hold meaningful positions, and even these are disappearing fast as new machines are created. Anyone whose I.Q. is too low to permit them to attend engineering college is relegated to one of three occupations. Some enlist in the army, although since rank is determined by I.Q. they have no promotion to look forward too, only retirement. The second option is the Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps, mainly a public works organization which allows men to busy themselves with meaningless work; one often sees groups of twenty men spending a day repairing a pot hole. The third track is the only one to offer any dignity: self-employment. However, this has different implications than one might think. The self-employed are consigned to becoming pool sharks, gamblers, or bar tenders.It is obvious...

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