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Kurt Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five - Essay Example

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Summary
Kurt Vonnegut was a great writer. Basically, “features and characteristics of historiographic metafiction…[were] applied to [his masterpiece] Slaughterhouse-Five.” One of the main characters, or protagonists, in the book is named Billy Pilgrim. …
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Kurt Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five

Download file to see previous pages... “Many critics see Billy Pilgrim as a type of Christ figure, an innocent who is dirtied by the sins of humankind, but who delivers a message of salvation.” Before he goes off to war, Billy meets an author named Kilgore Trout. “Kilgore Trout [becomes] Billy’s favorite living author, and science fiction [become] the only tales he [can] read.” Basically, it is this fiction which saves him, as he creates a fictional world while the prisoners of war (P.O.W.’s) from the Battle of the Bulge hunker down in an old slaughterhouse given the number five—from whence comes the title. “The Allied firebombing of Dresden in the final months of World War II was the largest massacre in European history, and because he was there, and survived it, Kurt Vonnegut felt the witness's duty to testify.” Vonnegut tells this tale very masterfully, and the hero, our protagonist Billy, invents an imaginary alien world of Tralfamadore. In fact, he is whisked away—not only from Dresden but from a ‘vapid civilian life,’ pre- and post-war. Billy becomes ‘unstuck in time,’ and travels all through various points of his life while in the slaughterhouse, making somewhat of a mockery of his surroundings. “At the age of 46…Billy…realizes that he has been chosen to proclaim Tralfamadorian wisdom to all Earthlings.” One of the things one must realize about Slaughterhouse-Five is that it is a novel which changed the face of literature, and is the likes of which no one had seen before or will probably be seen since. Vonnegut’s book flaunts a postmodernist theme, appealing to postwar ideas. Of course, “hindsight is always twenty-twenty,” as the saying goes—the idea that we might have been able to do better when it came to having fought World War Two. Additionally, what Vonnegut does is critique his own work as the book is actually progressing, very often commenting as the narrator of his own book. This is known as “metafiction.” So, not only is Vonnegut’s work a stunning representation of metafictional commentary, but it is postmodern in its style and approach. The postmodernist view often posits that we are all viewing the world from a particular lens, or viewpoint. Everyone may have a different viewpoint but that does not mean any of us are ‘wrong’ to see things this way—we are just distinct pieces of a puzzle which all fit together somehow. So, there is a method to the madness of everyone’s viewpoint—and since everyone views the kaleidoscope differently, we are not to judge anyone’s viewpoint as being untrue, but we must accept everyone’s viewpoint as being part of the puzzle. Once we put all the pieces of the puzzle together, we realize the frailty and beauty of the human condition, because all of our respective pieces create humanity in all its diversity and loveliness. These are some of the ideals that are portrayed in Vonnegut’s novel, which was brilliantly conceived and written. My interest in World War Two history was definitely piqued after having read this book at a very young age, before I read the book again for this IB oral exam. The bombing of Dresden, which occurred at the end of World War Two, was part of the fall of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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