Slaughter House Five Kurt Vonnegut How Vonnegut Uses Hidden Motifs To Different Effects On The Reader

1604 words - 6 pages

This passage on p.257-p.267 shows many examples of Kurt Vonnegut's writing style and techniques. However, there are two major techniques Vonnegut uses throughout Slaughterhouse-Five that is exemplified in this passage. In order to understand these techniques one must first know about Billy's situation at the point of the passage. He Goes to war, and shortly afterwards he begins to time travel and is allegedly abducted by aliens and put in their zoo. There are two seemingly parallel stories being told at the same time, one of him on the alien planet Tralfamadore, one of him on Earth travelling through time. In this particular passage, Billy has come back from a bookstore in which he reads a few Kilgore Trout books. One is about a man that travels through time, and one is about some humans that were abducted and put on display in an alien zoo. These themes are strikingly similar to Billy's current situation with Tralfamadore and time travel. He then time travels to Tralfamadore, where his wife Montana Wildhack awaits. Around her neck is a locket. On the outside is engraved the very same prayer that used to hang in a portrait in Billy's old office (p.267, p.77). Throughout the "Billy on Earth" story, Vonnegut places hidden motifs in the text that are in some way related to the story of Billy in the Tralfamadorian zoo. These techniques that Vonnegut employs have certain effects on the readers. Vonnegut creates a sort of sub-story, underneath the directly told one, and leaves it up to the reader to decipher. This leads the readers to inquire: "Is Billy really crazy? Is Tralfamadore real? The reader also notices that Vonnegut tends to use Kilgore and his books as most of the "inter-story" links. This makes one speculate "How much of Billy's world is really Kilgore's creation?" Since, after all, Billy may be crazy, the reader may also call into question the so-called "Tralfamadorian's" opinion of free will. Another style that is quite unique to Vonnegut is the way he switches between universes at certain moments. He engineers these switches in order to emphasize certain points. Depending on what is happening to Billy at the time of the switch, the reader can discern what things kind of things Billy reacts to the most, mentally or emotionally. This offers a deeper insight into Billy's mind.Throughout the story, Vonnegut leaves many clues in the text, clues that tell a story. He does not directly communicate exactly what it is saying, which leaves it to the reader to decipher. In this manner, he creates a puzzle, one that the reader is compelled to solve. He is telling another story about Billy. Each clue seems to be linked to Billy in some way. This prompts the reader to initiate an investigation. Vonnegut hides and shows his clues in such a way that it makes the reader puzzled and intrigued. He sometimes puts very trivial and mysterious clues, and sometimes he shows it in a way that catches the readers' eye and doesn't let it go. For example, on p.267,...

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