Why Slaughterhouse Five Is An Anti War Novel

809 words - 4 pages

Slaughterhouse-Five displays many themes. However, there is a dispute as to whether the book is an anti-war novel or not. Slaughterhouse-Five, the character Kurt Vonnegut explains to Mary O’Hare, is intended to be an anti-war novel, and he says that it shall also be called The Children’s Crusade because of the effect it had on young men who fought in the war. Slaughterhouse-Five is an anti-war novel because Vonnegut, the character, says it is in the first chapter, because it depicts the terrible long-term effects the war has on Billy, and because it exposes war's devastating practices.
The first element to why Slaughterhouse-Five is an anti-war novel is because Vonnegut, the character, says it is. In the first chapter the character Vonnegut speaks with Mary O'Hare, the wife of Bernard O'Hare and antagonist of war, regarding the book that he will write and how it views war. Vonnegut also discusses with Mary why the book will be called The Children's Crusade. Mary says, "‘You will pretend you were men instead of babies...’" (14). Mary is accusing Vonnegut of writing the novel and saying that they were prepared for war because she thinks that he will glorify war by disregarding the fact that he and her husband were just young men not ready to fight in a war. She worries he will instead create characters who were heroes of war and show that they were ready to fight. Vonnegut answers, "‘I'll tell you what,’ he said, ‘I'll call it The Children's Crusade’" (15). He uses this as a response to show that he is writing an anti-war novel because he wanted to emphasize that they were not ready to fight in war and that they should not have fought in the war because they were young and unprepared.
Another reason Slaughterhouse-Five is an anti-war novel is because it shows the negative, long-term damage on Billy. The effect the war has on Billy is detrimental. After having lunch at the Lions Club, Billy weeps randomly for no apparent reason: "Every so often, for no apparent reason, Billy would find himself weeping" (61). Billy cries because of his memories of his war experiences that the major reminded him of and the possibility that his son may experience the horrors that he did. Another scene that shows Billy remembers a tormenting experience is after listening to the quartet at...

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