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Effects of the War in “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut Essay

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Updated: Dec 26th, 2021

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse 5” is one of the novels that are written as an anti war book. An anti-war book either speaks against war or is written in a way that the deadly consequences of war are brought out clearly. This particular book was written during the Second World War. It features one very important character by the name Billy whose pilgrim’s tales are narrated. The book reveals its anti-war nature through the themes that are presented in the book. It is a book that contains very ugly scenes and hardships that are experienced by Bill (Harold, 2007). Through reading the novel, the reader gets to feel the effects of the war. A very good example of such a theme is the consequences of war. Billy’s unfortunate experience during his abduction by the aliens is compared to the experience an individual soldier would have in the event of war.

The writer was motivated by the events that took place during the Second World War. In his language of writing, he uses some very deeply sentimental statements that speak against war (Thomas, 2002). Also the experience that Billy – one of the characters – went through shows how detrimental the war can be to the lives of people. It compares to the real life experience that a man by the name Vonnegut who was involved in the Second World War went through. This happened at the time when he was working in a place called Dresden where there was a bomb explosion. This bombing event greatly affected him for rest of his life. The event also claimed a total of more than 135,000 lives which can also be compared to the incident that occurred in Hiroshima. In this particular book, the character Billy also had an experience of the war the same way that Vonnegut did.

Some of the experiences of Bill and Vonnegut that resemble each other include the bombing and the issue of being a prisoner of war (POW). However, in the novel the experience of Billy is more of a lesson that tries to teach readers against war through the manner in which Billy is seen to perceive war (Thomas, 2002). This influences the reader to also take war as a very absurd event to get involved in. Apart from the writer showing the experiences of Billy during the war, he also shows the effects he had to suffer after the war. The fact that Billy is shown to help people correct their sights shows how destructive a war can be.

In addition to the war events and effects, the use of fiction by the writer is another way in which the book is revealed as anti-war. Some of these include life with the aliens. Also the use of tralfamadorians by the writer shows his strong feelings against war. It is used to demonstrate how Billy used it to escape the effects of the war on earth. Another way in which this book is shown to be anti-war is through its structure and style. A good example is the use of black humor; very dark comedy. These are used to amuse or make the audience to laugh when they are not supposed to or to minimize the stress of the disturbing effects of war (Harold, 2007). A good example is when Billy attempts to write about his experience with tralfamadorians. It is also illustrated in the ironical experiences in the book for instance where a soldier survives the war but still dies later from dry heaves as he buried the bodies.

The novel “Slaughterhouse 5” is anti-war in so many ways. The adverse effects of the Second World War such as the loss of lives of people and the effects on survivors all demonstrate that the book is opposed to any war.

Reference List

  1. Harold, B. (2007). Kurt Vonnegut’s slaughterhouse-five. London: Chelsea House.
  2. Thomas, F. (2002). Kurt Vonnegut: a critical companion. New York, NY: Greenwood Publishing Group.
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IvyPanda. "Effects of the War in “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slaughterhouse-5-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Effects of the War in “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slaughterhouse-5-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Effects of the War in “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut'. 26 December.

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