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section 20 September 2013 Hell that Never Ends: A Book Review of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five Using a fictional approach to his war memoir, Kurt Vonnegut explores the ramifications of war without directly doing it in his 215-page novel, Slaughterhouse-Five…
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Download file to see previous pages Chapter one makes it clear that Vonnegut does not want to glorify the war through his novel, but intends to do the opposite. This review examines if he achieved his purpose and how he did it. An evaluation of the novel reveals that he effectively attains his goal of letting the audience figure out for themselves that war is hell in a vicious cycle, but people have to continue living for the living without forgetting the dead. Vonnegut uses time-traveling as a form of fragmented storytelling. The first chapter tells the narrator’s goal of writing about the bombing of Dresden. He tells his war buddy’s (Bernard V. O'Hare) wife, Mary, that he does not want to romanticize the war, and instead, he promises to give his novel the title, “The Children's Crusade” (15). He does research on Dresden and is surprised to know that details about it are considered confidential up to now. He concludes the chapter with a note that his book is a “failure” because he is like Lot’s wife, another pillar of salt (22). Chapter two captures several important points in Billy’s life as he time travels. He is “unstuck” (23) in time, reliving several experiences repeatedly, one of which is his appearance in a radio talk show, where he discloses that the aliens Tralfamadorians have kidnapped him and taken him to Tralfamadore. In the alien’s world, he was imprisoned in a zoo and mated with Montana Wildhack, a pornographic star. The same chapter introduces the character of Roland Weary, an antitank gunner who adores war violence and who forces Pilgrim to continue walking. German forces capture them thereafter. Chapter three continues much of Pilgrim’s war experience, including the march and the railroad ride. He also goes back to his optometric practice, where he fears that his mental problems are affecting his performance as a doctor. He time jumps to a conversation with a major during the Lions Club luncheon, where he weeps after the major tells him that he should be proud that his son, Robert, is a Green Beret assigned in Vietnam. Chapter four combines many more of Pilgrim’s life events, including the alien kidnapping of Pilgrim, his birth, and Weary’s death in the train. Pilgrim meets two new people, Edgar Derby, a high school teacher, and Paul Lazzaro, who promises to murder Pilgrim for killing Weary. Pilgrim also learns from the Tralfamadorians that time is not important to them because it is what it is. Chapter five includes some childhood experiences, including Pilgrim’s visit to Carlsbad Caverns, where he prays to God to save him from collapsing cave roofs. He also learns how the world will end from the Tralfamadorians. Then, he makes friends with a cavalry captain, Eliot Rosewater, who experiences the same sense of meaninglessness of life after the war. Chapter six shows that someone shoots and kills Billy. Billy also remembers thousands of people in a parade in Dresden. The parade happens before the bombing. Pilgrim remembers that he and his group are locked up in Slaughterhouse-Five, underneath the city. Chapter seven narrates the airplane crash that Billy survives and the daily work routine of Dresden’s prisoners. Chapter eight depicts the destruction of Dresden. Everyone is killed and everything is destroyed apart from those who were imprisoned under the city and their guards. Pilgrim also meets Bertram Copeland Rumfoord in Chapter nine and discovers that the Dresden bombing is, for the latter, an unfortunate necessity ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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