Slaughterhouse 5 By Kurt Vennegut Essay

1537 words - 6 pages

– The devastation caused by war in Slaughterhouse five
Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007), one of the most inspirational twentieth century American writers. This book is unique in the fact that it can be classified as historical fiction, science fiction and an autobiography (certain parts of the protagonist’s life are similar to Vonnegut’s life) at the same time. Slaughterhouse Five follows the life and journeys of Billy Pilgrim, the main character in this non-linear novel. Billy has lived his life as a social outcast, a stereotypically weak and unpopular boy. He is a joke of a soldier when he is drafted into the Army and he soon becomes “unstuck in time”, or so he says. The book’s climax – the cruel and unnecessary bombing of Dresden, reflects the real life bombing of the city by Allied forces. The offensive killed about 25,000 people with the use of incendiary bombs and it destroyed a majority of the city in real life. Billy likely suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the book as a result of the horrific scenes he bore witness to, and this might help explain the mental imbalance that caused him to believe he had become “unstuck in time”. Many real-life veterans have undergone similar problems as a result of War; the greatest evil mankind has ever created. War was one of the major problems during Vonnegut’s time as World War II had recently ended and the Cold War (particularly the conflict in Vietnam) had begun to escalate. Vonnegut’s time in the army amplified his pacifist feelings and ever since he returned, he had planned to write about the horrendous images he had seen at Dresden. It took him 23 years to finally complete Slaughterhouse Five, a book in which he criticizes the war by showing its numerous ill-effects. Kurt Vonnegut makes a massive statement about the devastation caused by war by using several literary devices that help develop his argument.
Kurt Vonnegut effectively uses the concept of irony in Slaughterhouse Five to make his point that war can be unnecessarily devastating. Irony is the use of diction to convey a meaning that is the opposite of what is actually intended and Vonnegut uses this ingeniously throughout the novel. He embeds his main point (the fact that war is horrific, destructive, and useless) in the text in such a way that it is clear even though he often writes the opposite. Vonnegut uses ironic quotes and occurrences in the story to remind us that war is devastating to any and everyone involved. One of the most effective ironical references in the book occur when the Germans hunt down and kill the two scouts who had abandoned Billy and Roland Weary. “The two scouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had just been shot" (Vonnegut 54). This is ironic because the well-trained scouts, who were adept at surviving behind enemy lines, ended up dead, while Billy, a hapless and inept soldier, ended up surviving. This shows us that war can be so...

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