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- So it Goes: Making Sense of the Beautiful Senselessness that is Slaughterhouse Five
- Slaughterhouse-Five is the seminal work of the late
- author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. It details the life and wartime experiences of Billy Pilgrim, a veteran who was traumatized during World War Two. Coincidentally, this was also a significant influence on Vonnegut in both his writings and day-to-day life. Many essays come to the conclusion that the novel is an allegory to the healing process through its suggestions of time and itś relativity however, the book is less of an allegorical story of time and its passing, and more of a direct outcry derivative of a man haunted by the actions and atrocities committed by those he served for.
- Slaughterhouse Five is a direct outcry of disdain to the atrocities committed by neighbors throughout history. Rather than the more loose interpretations presented by means of allegories for how time may heal wounds, it is a more direct and obvious representation into the world of the meaninglessness of war and how atrocities may damage a man entirely. The primary example throughout this and many of his other works can be seen in the fateful bombing of the German city of Dresden, which was carried out by allied forces in February of 1945. Vonnegut was present at this battle, and it is where the title of the novel is derived from, thus proving even further the significant figure of the war-torn man.
- Time is used throughout other various summaries as a primary symbolic point in the novel, pointing to the meaninglessness of time itself as a key factor in his descriptors of Billy and his abilities to see beyond time. This can be easily rebuked by looking at the time to took for the novel to be published. It is said that this is a recounting of Vonnegut’s experiences during the bombings of Dresden, which took place twenty-four years before the novel was published. This can irrefutably be seen as the time in which it took for Vonnegut to properly come to terms with the incredible trauma he faced in that period of his life.
- In another literary analysis of the novel, it is said that it tackles the struggle between determining free-will and destiny, which is nothing short of a near impossible task. This is something the novel does not fall short of in terms of its interpretations of it as a concept. In an essay, it is said that “Slaughterhouse-Five explores this struggle between free-will and destiny, and illustrates the idea of time in order to demonstrate that there is no free-will in war; it is just destiny.” There is some truth in this statement, however, a better examination into the destiny of war can be seen with the life and finality of the main character. This is sincere in its truths due to his knowledge and applied perceptiveness of time itself. He states that “I, Billy Pilgrim, will die, have died, and always die on February 13, 1976.” which is a constant throughout the novel, and has basis around many different characters. However, using Billy’s Unique ability to move through time and space, we can see his free will in perfect form.
- In Conclusion, Slaughterhouse Five is a novel detailing the problems and struggles of coping with extreme pressure and stress caused by traumatic wartime events, conveyed through the use of satire, irony and many symbolic gestures. It is the most conclusive piece of vonnegut’s writings, in terms of him being able to truly comprehend what happened to himself and others during the events of the Dresden firebombings. The evidence seen throughout the novel is very representative of the writings of a man who needed to come to proper terms with the senseless violence he had seen in his stint as a soldier and prisoner of war, and should be less treated as a satire aimed at the meaninglessness of war, and more as a recount of one soldier’s decline of mental health and his attempts to come to terms with this.
- Literary analyses used:
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