Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close And Slaughterhouse Comparison

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade, A Duty-Dance With Death and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close share several similar traits. These commonalities reside in the authors’ specific use of character in relation or reaction to setting, and in their eschewing of the linear narrative form. Both writers employ main characters who struggle against the mental fall-out of having experienced catastrophic events – with the World War Two-era firebombing of the German city of Dresden, in particular, playing a central role in each novel – and both authors reject or disrupt the linear narrative structure with frequent shifts in narrative time. Rather than truly deal with the traumas they have suffered,…show more content…
Though he remembers first becoming unstuck in time in 1944, it did not happen. It is a memory manufactured by the coping devices his mind uses to avoid the horror and despair of having been in Dresden when it was firebombed. When the narrator asks us to “[l]isten” at the beginning of chapter two, he first tells us that “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time” (23). He follows that statement with the fact that “Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day” (23). The implication here is that he became unstuck in time for the first time after having gone to sleep “a senile widower.” The description of him as “a senile widower” contradicts the statement that Billy has seen and experienced his own assassination in 1976, and it confirms the fact that he is suffering from mental illness. This is so because, having been born in 1922, dying in 1976 would make him 54 years old at the time of his assassination. If Billy is, in fact, assassinated in 1976, then the situation of him going to sleep “a senile widower” occurs between 1968, when his wife dies, and 1976, when he is assassinated. Billy would be between 46 and 54 years old during this time. That would be a rather early onset of senility. This fact implies that when the narrator describes Billy as going to sleep “a senile widower,” it is actually happening as late as the latter half of the 1980s, when he would be in his mid sixties – the age-range in which senility is most common. Therefore, his 1976 assassination is one of his delusions. But, whether or not the instance of Billy going to sleep as “a senile widower and [awakening] on his wedding day” (Vonnegut 23) happens before or after 1976, he is, with the word “senile,” described as suffering from a form of mental

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