Pro War Characters With An Anti War Message

2493 words - 10 pages

In the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five, the narrator goes to meet an old war friend, Bernard V. O’Hare, who served with him in World War II and was also witness to the bombing of Dresden. The narrator, having attempted to write a novel based on his experiences during that time for many years, was hoping that, between the two of them, they could come up with some good war stories to incorporate into his novel. After many failed attempts to find something of substance upon which to base his novel, both men failed, for “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre” (19). Instead, the most important thing anyone came up with that evening was one who hadn’t even served in the war. Mary O’Hare, Bernard’s wife, was opposed to war, “it was war that made her so angry”, and feared that, through the narrator’s story, he would make war “look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them” (15, 14). Upon hearing Mary’s outburst, the narrator promised her “there wouldn’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne” in his telling of his experiences during war (15). Instead, the narrator pledged that he would title his novel “The Children’s Crusade”, which Slaughterhouse-Five is subtitled, and dedicated the novel to her.
While Slaughterhouse-Five may not have any characters Sinatra or Wayne would be suited to play, it does contain many characters that hold pro-war views. In many ways, the narrator’s honest portrayal of characters who view war in a positive manner or who attempt to justify the bombing of Dresden works against them. The narrator, for the most part, doesn’t attempt to rebuke or criticize these views, but instead represents them in all their unflinching honesty. By highlighting the inhumanity and cruelty of these characters, the narrator does more to influence his readers’ views of war and violence than any of his more antiwar characters. Characters such as Howard W. Campbell, Bertram Copeland Rumfoord, Roland Weary, Paul Lazzaro, the Marine Corp Major, Wild Bob, the British prisoner’s of war, and even real testimony from sources such as President Truman and various war historians, the narrator illustrate that sometimes, the best weapons against those you disagree with are through the use of their very own words.
Keeping true to the narrator’s pledge to Mary, Slaughterhouse-Five is “a different kind of war story – one that will not produce other conflicts” (Jarvis, 63)
Roland Weary was an antitank gunner who, as a replacement to a gun crew, fired one shot that missed its intended target, which in retaliation ended up killing “everybody on the gun crew but Weary” (35). Alone, Weary joined up with two scouts, who eventually found Billy.
Weary is a sick individual, obsessed with knives, torture instruments, and death. For fun, he would imagine various ways of torturing people to death. Weary also fantasized about his situation in the war, playing a war movie in his head, with him in the starring role, even though “the true war story...

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