Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is a satire on the behaviors of man. Often characterized as an anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five tries to show that war and destruction are a part of the human life cycle. Humanity is highly conflict prone; conflict resolution often manifests itself in the terms of war. Vonnegut attempts to show that war results in widespread death and destruction; therefore, war and death are inevitable. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut explores the inevitability of war, shown through the examination of color usage - such as blue and ivory - in order to symbolize the interminable presence of war.
Vonnegut establishes the over riding idea of how war is inevitable to prove that no human beings will ever be able to cease war and death because they are never ending, cynical cycles of life. The anonymous narrator, in chapter one, begins to make points to show that war is inevitable. At one point, the anonymous narrator discusses his anti-war book with Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, who inquires, “’Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?’ What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that too” (3). The argument between writing an anti-war novel and the inevitability of war begins at this point. Billy is thinking about writing a book regarding the bombings of Dresden because he desires to exemplify the ironic idea that Dresden is a beautiful place, full of innocents, which is ultimately destroyed by the interminable threat and existence of war. Dresden should have never been bombed because it is not considered a military stronghold or military target. Dresden is an occupational city with “medicine and food-processing and the making of cigarettes […] [as] principal enterprises” (149). No matter what ideals of security and of safety that one may think they possess, everyone is ultimately subject to the death and destruction that war creates. War could simply be perceived as a route to death, but death is intertwined with war; therefore, war and death are both two inevitable entities that will always haunt the lives of human beings.
Billy Pilgrim, as used by Vonnegut, is an embodiment of self-sacrifice in Slaughterhouse-Five. Billy types a letter including his ideas about time, and desires to explain to the world his thoughts about how he hopes to change the world’s perception of time. When the letter is published, everyone “said he was making a laughing stock of himself and everybody associated with him” because ‘”it’s all just crazy [, and] none of it’s true!’” (29). Vonnegut establishes that Billy is sacrificing himself for his thoughts about time. Billy is placed into a war zone where people are attacking him and aiding to his public demise because of his “crazy” thoughts pertaining to time.
Vonnegut uses the colors blue and ivory to show loss of hope and the decay of morality in a world where war and death are...