Slaughterhouse Five Throughout history, society, in general, has been molded by the ravages of war. From King Henry VII’s invasion of Brittany, to the bloodshed on the shores of Iwo Jima, all the way to the present-day territory dispute in Bosnia and Herzegovina, war abounds mankind and its short history. As nations, ethnicities, ect. constantly attempt to outdo one another war will continue to arise. In recent years much has been said about the poor effects war has on society in a general sense; but what does war do to an individual? This is a question often avoided as a result of the bitter truth: War can all but destroy the sane mind of the common man. This is a fact that was abundantly presented in Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse Five. The story is initially set during World War II, but moves from place to place, and from time period to time period throughout the novel. The story centers around the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden and the mythic journey of an American soldier/ prisoner-of-war named Billy Pilgrim. Pilgrim suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and imagines his abduction by aliens, and a great journey through space and time, to a fictional planet named Tralfamadore. A great deal of strange thoughts occurred inside Bill Pilgrim’s mind, but Billy had no control over these thoughts. War has an uncanny ability to inflict mental stress on man. The story of Billy Pilgrim is a near-perfect example of the horrendous way in which war can affect the mind of the common man. As a prisoner of war, Billy Pilgrim is subjected to daily torture ranging from beatings and malnourishment. Pilgrim also witnessed the beatings of many other soldiers, some of whom he was familiar with. Billy Pilgrim’s mind was not only a victim of torture, but also the Dresden fire-bombings — one of the most deadly acts of war ever. Despite the fact that Billy was confined to a subterranean prisoner-of-war camp during the bombings, he…
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. Don’t let the ease of reading fool you–Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters…” Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut’s most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy–and humor.
- ISBN13: 9780385333849
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