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An In Depth Rhetorical Analysis Of Kurt Vonneguts' 'slaugtherhouse Five'.

1229 words - 5 pages

"Death may be the greatest of all human blessings."The above title comes from the well known philosopher Socrates, and in fact he is right. Since the dawn of humanity, there has constantly been death, destruction, catastrophe, and horror. Because if it weren't for these things, would more humans exist today? More generations of more people? The human method of resurrecting and gaining even more power to become stronger as a race? Whether it's within our cultures or societies we know of this method very well. The hope that keeps us advancing from the worst of times into the better. It's the hope within death that new life will come and people will gain to be better that makes it the greatest of all human blessings. Hence, in such a book where it is hard to see such hope in individuals such as Billy Pilgrim and the horror of the Dresden Bombings, Vonnegut display's hope within his story. Slaughterhouse-Five is not without hope, just as the human straits are not completely in despair.To begin, Vonnegut emphasizes what seems to become a motif throughout the book, the three simply words, "So it goes." This phrase encompasses every death in the novel, whether it is in a small scale or large, or for that matter related to Pilgrim or not. With this phrase Vonnegut is able to put a passive twist on death. Not only so, but he is able to show that life continues and in most obvious ways that hope exists here and renewal of life as death occurs. Even renewal exists in death. This is seen in Edgar Derby, who is one of the not so many to survive the deadly Dresden incinerations, but is ironically shot for simply taking a teapot in the ruble. "Somewhere in there the poor old high school teacher, Edgar Derby, was caught with a teapot he had taken from the catacombs. He was arrested for plundering. He was tried and shot. So it goes."(214) Being as nice of a person as he was to Billy Pilgrim, his death is not regarded with pathos, but rather renewal. "So it goes." Is used in this climactic scene to bring renewal and the moving on in life, along with inevitableness. The same is done by Vonnegut with Maori, the innocent man who digs out corpses from the ruins of Dresden with Billy Pilgrim. He dies from too much vomiting from the stench. This is one of the not so many moments that Vonnegut struggled to achieve by bringing together hope and despair. Todd F. Davis wrote in Apocalyptic Grumbling: Post Modern Humanism in the Work of Kurt Vonnegut "While much of what Vonnegut writes after Breakfast of Champions suggests his hope that we may embrace and improve the lives of others through the construct of postmodern humanism, his training as a scientist prevents him from ignoring the many signs of communal decay and separation present in contemporary culture and the abominable and deadly acts such as isolation leads us to commit." (159) In a humanity where such abominable and deadly acts are committed it is through post modernism that Vonnegut expressed a little hope in...

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