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 the use of Billy Pilgrim and the other characters, Vonnegut is able show the horrific affects the war can have on these men, not only during the war but after as well. From the very beginning Vonnegut portrays a strong sense of anti-war feelings, which he makes most apparent through Billy Pilgrim. Some of these men were uprooted from their lives at home to fight in a war that they didn’t care for and ended up becoming a totally different person from it.
Vonnegut constantly shows how the war can have an affect on an individual and the consequences it can cause. Billy Pilgrim is used to show these affects and the consequences of war. It didn’t take Billy long to realize after being a POW in Germany that there is no good outcomes when it comes to war. After he returned home from the war he tried to distance himself from everyone around him. He would constantly have flashbacks thinking about his experiences and the pain he went through. When Billy was engaged in the Battle of the Bulge he realized the only way he could cope with the hard times was to use death as an escape. When times got tough after the war he also turned to death as an escape. He felt that it was the easy way out, and that it was the only way to ease the pain and forgot about his tragic experiences. Billy shows no regard for his own life and doesn’t really care what happens to him. Rolland Weary who is one of Billy’s fellow soldiers realizes what Billy is going through some hard times and tries to save him. When he tells Billy that he needs to figure it out and snap out of it, Billy says, “ You guys go on without me. I’m all right” (Vonnegut 47). This just displays the hopelessness in Billy’s life. The war has driven him to lose touch with himself and not value his own life. This makes it very easy for a reader to feel empathy for Billy and get an idea of how war can really affect these men. Billy isn’t the only character that Vonnegut uses to depict the terrors of war.
Throughout the novel, Vonnegut uses different characters to display his anti-war feelings and show how many innocent victims end up being casualties in a war. In order to display this effectively, he uses Edgar Derby as an example. Edgar Derby was a high school teacher that willingly left his career to fight in the war. He was much older then most of then most of the men he was serving with including his son who was also fighting in the war. Derby was also one of the soldiers that experienced the firebombing in Dresden with Billy. After the bombing occurred Derby and the...

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