Essay Describes The Insanity Of War In "Slaughterhouse Five" By Kurt Vonnegut.

1466 words - 6 pages

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is the tale of a gawky World War II veteran/soldier, Billy Pilgrim. His wartime experiences and their effects lead him to the ultimate conclusion that war is unexplainable. To portray this effectively, Vonnegut presents the story in two dimensions: historical and science-fiction. The irrationality of war is emphasized in each dimension by contrasts in its comic and tragic elements. The historical seriousness of the Battle of the Bulge and the bombing of Dresden are contrasted by many ironies and dark humor; the fantastical, science-fiction-type place of Tralfamadore is, in truth, an outlet for Vonnegut to show his incredibly serious fatalistic views. The surprising variations of the seriousness and light-heartedness allow Vonnegut to show effectively that war is absurd.The most important historical plot strand of Slaughterhouse-Five is Billy Pilgrim's war experience which occurs during the last six months of World War II. This plot strand follows Billy through the Battle of the Bulge and his presence as a POW during the bombing of Dresden, Germany. Vonnegut contrasts these documented milestones with incredible amounts of dramatic irony and dark humor. This provides the plot with not only comic relief, but examples of absurdities which parallel the message of the insanity of war. Billy, standing at a lanky six-foot two, is introduced in the middle of a Luxembourg forest during the Battle of the Bulge. He, along with two infantry scouts and an antitank gunner named Roland Weary, have been separated from their platoon and are alone in enemy territory. In contrast to the two scouts, who are quiet and swiftly moving through the forest, Weary and Billy are loud and clumsy. The scouts abandon Billy and Weary, as they are a threat to their survival. Ironically the talented, trained scouts are killed by the Germans, whereas Billy and Roland are spared and merely taken as POWs. The simplicity and innocence in the description of the tragic ends of the scouts are told in the simple sentence, "Three inoffensive bangs came from far away." The ending of lives, especially that of comrades, cannot be characterized as "inoffensive." Billy doesn't say this to be unsympathetic, but rather from the shock of a war that alters his perception of life, and makes him unable to deal with reality in a normal way. More irony is shown with the horrible conditions on the POW train headed for Dresden, plagued by cold weather, endless hours of nothing to do, and cramped surroundings. A hobo dies on one boxcar while proclaiming, "You think this is bad? This ain't so bad." Also, Roland Weary dies of gangrene, as a result of going shoeless when he is stripped of his boots by German soldiers. He blames Billy for his death. Ironically, of the four original soldiers, Billy is the only one who remains alive, yet he is the most unlikely one to do so. Eventually, Billy makes it to Dresden, and he and the other American POWs are housed in...

Find Another Essay On Essay describes the insanity of war in "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut.

"SlaughterHouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. Essay

3814 words - 15 pages that from a girl that was in her situation. He is actually worried with bystanders of war and hates the inhumanity of war. I was surprised to see Dresden as a clean place in times of war. When Billy envisions himself as a comical character in the slaughterhouse, it may be a way for him to lighten the seriousness of the situation.Twenty-five years after the war, Billy is flying to a convention with other optometrists from Ilium. Although he knows

War in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

1382 words - 6 pages Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller both have a striking resemblance in the themes of anti-war and of free will. Both don’t come into full force right in the beginning but eventually become more evident. Both novels focus on one character throughout the entire novel, and each protagonist is affected by all the events around them. It changes their perspective and how they view life as a whole. Both Billy in

Slaughterhouse Five, or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut -The Real War as a Children's Game-

1339 words - 5 pages Slaughterhouse Five, or The Children's Crusadeby Kurt Vonnegut-The Real War as a Children's Game-The satirical, cynical, skeptical and fantasist humor is the main characteristic of Kurt Vonnegut's work in a book that keeps being written and re-written hoping to make itself useful for the humanity... "Hey, as long as we are stuck with being Homo sapiens, why mess around? Anybody got an atomic bomb? Who doesn't have an atomic bomb?" But behind his

Explanation using textual examples why Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, is an anti-war novel

713 words - 3 pages In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut takes the chance to write about war from a disenchanted soldier's perspective and show his negative view of war. The novel essentially takes place during World War II, although it does skip around to other times during the main character's life. Vonnegut himself fought in World War II as a youth, and the war left him with lasting impressions. He wrote the novel during the Vietnam War, a

A Book Report on Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

1463 words - 6 pages has very little personality traits, let alone an immersive and complex character. Most of the story is written around his experiences that seem more like symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his World War Two days, combined with hallucinations after a brain injury in a near-fatal plane crash. His personality is greatly impacted by his lack of belief in free-will, supported by the theme. b. The Tralmalfadorians a plunger-like aliens

"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut: Influential Experiences in Billy Pilgrim's Life

843 words - 3 pages In "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist, undergoes several monumental changes through his experiences that not only influence him but rather revolutionize his life. From the bombing of Dresden, to his abduction by the Tralfamadorians, to his return to Illium after the war and ultimately getting stuck in the never-ending 4th dimension of time, he is transformed and he and his perceptions revolutionized.Billy's

Welcome to the Monkey House, Harrison Bergeron, and Slaughterhouse-five, by Kurt Vonnegut

1359 words - 5 pages . Perhaps not to caution, but to reveal the twisted ways in which our current society treats sex. No doubt seen in every form of media and in every war, this theme can be found in Slaughterhouse-five and “Welcome to the Monkey House.” In current society, sex is both condemned and heralded in an oxymoronic sort of way. Sex is touted in the media as wonderful, natural, beautiful, enjoyable and fun; however, it is also severely censored by the church

"Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut - The Archetypal Approach

652 words - 3 pages , novelists like Kurt Vonnegut avoid to mythological references and this indicates us the fact that the belief to the old myths are getting weaker in that time period. He creates a weak and miserable character and hesitates to glorify him in order to reflect the destructiveness of war that will never end successfully. I think this is because of the rise of non-fictional writings in that era as in the example of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and just because this book is also an autobiographical work and a documentary.

Billy Pilgrim as a Christ Figure in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse Five

3072 words - 12 pages Billy Pilgrim as a Christ Figure in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse Five After reading the novel, Slaughterhouse Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., I found my self in a sense of blankness. The question I had to ask myself was, "Poo-tee-weet?"(Vonnegut p. 215). Yet, the answer to my question, according to Vonnegut was, "So it goes"(Vonnegut p.214). This in fact would be the root of my problems in trying to grasp the character of Billy

Literary criticism of "Slaughter House Five", by Kurt Vonnegut.

1846 words - 7 pages affected by his experience in Dresden and these themes become evident in his novels. The common thread between all of Vonnegut's themes is war. The bombing of Dresden had a profound impact on the life and writing of Kurt Vonnegut. "Rarely has a single incident so dominated the work of a writer" (Goldsmith IX). World War II shaped many of Kurt Vonnegut's philosophies that appear in his novels, especially Slaughterhouse Five. "With Slaughterhouse Five

This essay is on the novel entitled Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

3960 words - 16 pages one's purpose in life, what is faith and morality and if there is such a thing in this cruel world then why children would be called to fight in a war and participate in a 'duty dance with death'. Kurt Vonnegut attempted to answer some of these questions that have plagued society with his novel, Slaughterhouse- Five.Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse- Five so that the book's protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, ventured out to various occurrences in his life

Similar Essays

Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

1480 words - 6 pages look at his life and how it affected the novel. Vees-Gulani, Susanne. "Diagnosing Billy Pilgrim: A Psychiatric Approach to Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 44.2 (2003): 175+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. Vees-Gulani uses medical journals and works by other doctors to diagnose Billy Pilgrim with PTSD. While she isn’t a doctor, she provides an adequate amount of evidence that supports her idea. This essay ties in directly to my topic and I plan to use it as another way to link Slaughterhouse-five to PTSD. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. 1969. New York: Dell Publishing, 1991. Print.

"Slaughterhouse Five" By Kurt Vonnegut. Essay

10515 words - 42 pages like a desolate moonscape: nothing moved anywhere.For years Vonnegut wanted to tell the story of his Dresden experience, and in Chapter I of Slaughterhouse-Five he describes the difficulties he had in trying to write about it. By 1968 America's escalation of the war in Vietnam and the growing protest against the war had added to his sense of urgency about completing the book. Vonnegut's other writings show that he identified strongly with the

Slaughterhouse Five, By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

2109 words - 8 pages In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, a fictional character named Bill Pilgrim is used to depict the various themes about life and war. Vonnegut went through some harsh times in Dresden, which ultimately led to him writing about the tragedies and emotional effects that come with war. By experiencing the war first handed, Vonnegut is able to make a connection and relate to the traumatic events that the soldiers go through. Through

"Slaughterhouse Five" By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

671 words - 3 pages repercussions war has on society in a general sense; but what does war do to an individual? This is a question often avoided as a result of the bitter truth: War can all but destroy the sane mind of the common man.This is a fact that was abundantly presented in Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse Five. The story is initially set during World War II, but moves from place to place, and from time period to time period throughout the novel