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World War II in “Slaughterhouse-Five“ Novel by Kurt Vonnegut Essay

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Updated: Dec 30th, 2020

Introduction

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a science fiction novel which depicts the World War II and other events connected to it. George Roy Hill has shot a movie based on this novel which perfectly fits its tone.

Reading a book, we can see in the first part how Mary O’Hare berates Kurt Vonnegut for the intention to write a novel about the war. I can understand Mary O’Hare’s position and state that she is right in her indignation, especially if to take into account the fact that John Wayne or Frank Sinatra could be starring in the movie. To make a detailed description of the expressed opinion and to prove it, we should consider the characteristic features of the heroes and the general perception of novels which are directed at the description of different war events.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The main argument Mary O’Hare provides in her rejection of the war topic in the novel is that most of such stories idealize war, make it heroic and interesting. Of course, it is impossible to reject the war, to close eyes and imagine that it does not exist at all. War has always been and will always be, still, the written stories that show they seem to promote the idea of leading fights. The main concerns Mary O’Hare experiences are that those who are going to read a war story will believe that war is the way out, that it is the decision that may help solve the conflict which cannot be considered in another way.

If to assume that John Wayne and Frank Sinatra are going to be starring in the movie based on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, so the anger Mary O’Hare expresses is more understood. John Wayne and Frank Sinatra are two old men who adore war. The depiction of the war events by such heroes may lead that the events are going to be presented as something beautiful, like a miracle. In this case, the war can be considered as the sequence of events that show who are the heroes and how “bad guys” die. But! War is not so great as it may seem. There are a lot of innocent people who die only because others want to have more power than they have.

Berating Kurt Vonnegut, Mary O’Hare understood that the depiction of war as something nice and heroic, war can come one after another. People are subjected to outside influence and if somebody says that war is good, this may lead to devastating events. If to remember the movies John Wayne starring at, it is possible to say that most of them are westerns. What is one of the main ideas in any western? It is a war! Appearing at the screens John Wayne showed that war is a norm, that people in the West live in constant possibility of war and it is a norm for them. If to predict that Kurt Vonnegut could become a hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel about war, people would also consider that war is a norm. This is the main concern of Mary O’Hare and the reasons for her worries.

I agree with Mary O’Hare that it is inadmissible to write novels about the wars as they are aimed at the promotion of the weapon conflicts. At the same time, I cannot say that the absence of such novels and movies is exactly what people need. People should know their history, they should be aware of the most essential events even though these events are bloody. The authors of the books and the film directors should just take the correct position, they should show how much grief and sorrow war brings to people.

Conclusion

For example, reading the first part of the novel, I thought that Mary O’Hare was right, that the story about the war is not what Kurt Vonnegut should write, but having watched the movie I have changed my mind. The movie shows the worst side of the war, it depicts death, not a simple one because it is time, but cruel and brutal. The sniped view of the randomized episodes from Billy Pilgrim’s life shows us his childhood, youth, and the period of war when he had to fight along with other soldiers. I want to express one idea which is not central in the novel, but which remains one of the most exciting for me and which explains why people should not afraid to write about wars.

The author of the novel points that human thinking and perception are very narrow, and a person is unable to cover the whole picture as a whole. That is why Mary O’Hare’s concerns are too high. She is sure that people have the same narrow perception as she does and if such war-lovers as John Wayne and Frank Sinatra are shot, they are going to be the reasons for people to consider the war something exciting and interesting. People are unable to see the cruelty and blood behind these personalities.

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IvyPanda. "World War II in “Slaughterhouse-Five“ Novel by Kurt Vonnegut." December 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slaughterhouse-five-novel-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "World War II in “Slaughterhouse-Five“ Novel by Kurt Vonnegut." December 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slaughterhouse-five-novel-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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