Slaughter House Five By Kurt Vonnegut

1295 words - 5 pages

The firebombing of Dresden Germany was an event that left nearly one hundred and forty-thousand innocent civilians dead in a city that was not heavily controlled by the Nazi's. This horrific bombing is the core of Kurt Vonnegut's science-fiction novel Slaughter-House Five, which tells its readers about the illusion of free will as well as the catastrophic effects of war, while using unrealistic and genuine happenings to explain the story.The story tells of a young boy, Billy Pilgrim, who was involved in World War II. He has become unstuck in time and travels back and forth between moments of his life as well as a planet 4 quadrillion miles from earth called Tralfamadore. In his time travels he sees the past as well as the future. He sees his future children, his future wife, and even his inevitable death at the hands of a hired gun. This style of writing does not leave much suspense to mull over, but the omniscient narrator does give insightful add-ons as to what will happen. All these elements incorporated with the themes and exceptional use of creative writing make for a truly memorable novel.The illusion of free will as well as the catastrophic effects of war plays an essential role in the foundation of this novel. Free will, according to the Tralfamadorians is a concept that is only seen on earth. These strange creatures have extrasensory perception which allows them to see in more than three dimensions. They believe that in a different dimension, all moments in time have already occurred and are playing over and over again simultaneously. The people Tralfamadore say that nothing can be done to stop this and that it is best for one to accept his fate. This is evident in the fact that Billy Pilgrim has already seen the moment in life where he is diagnosed as insane, and when he is to be killed. He can try to fight these facts all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that is going to happen no matter what. What the Tralfamadorians basically believed was that people do what they do not because they want to, but because they must. Another theme of this novel, which is more prevalent than free will, is the catastrophic effects of war. At several points in the book Pilgrim warps back to the time when he was in Dresden, Germany just before, for the duration of, or immediately following the bombing. Following the war, or in moments where Billy is warped to the future, he is his future self, and he has been driven crazy following the war. When he tries to explain Tralfamadore and the people that came to take him there and the zoo they put him in, his friends and acquaintances expel him as if he were a disease.The setting of this novel is ever changing and never remains the same for more than a chapter. This plays into the concept of Billy Pilgrim being "unstuck in time". In the beginning of the novel it is primarily the narrator talking with his friend O'Hare. This then phases out and it changes to the front lines, where Roland Weary is driving and...

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