Literary Techniques In Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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The second technique Vonnegut uses to develop theme in this novel is the structure of the time-sequencing. As was previously mentioned, the majority of this book is not in chronological order. In fact, after a brief overview of his life, the first scene in the book is the most recent. Almost every scene in the book after this all happens before the first scene. Every scene is relatively short and not in any particular order. There might be a scene from the war, followed by a description of some part of his childhood, followed by a story of his married life. The book is told in the order in which Billy Pilgrim claims to have experienced them. This is very similar in style to how Vonnegut describes Tralfamadorian literature: Each clump of-symbols…show more content…
In Slaughterhouse-Five, the plot is not very clear at first glance. We consider most books to have a beginning, middle, and end in which the plot is presented; however, in this novel, the plot is actually the life of Billy Pilgrim, presented as a selection of scenes from throughout his life. As Billy is “unstuck in time,” his life does not have to be presented in what we consider to be chronological order. Each scene tells us something important about his life. What the reader does see, is that Billy’s free will does not appear to exist. He is first drafted to the war, against his will, then when he arrives he is not given proper training or equipment, yet he still survives Dresden. Even if he had trained hard, enlisted himself, and been given high quality equipment, he still would have had the same result. An example of this is Edgar Derby. He is enthusiastic about war, is in fantastic shape, and seems to be an outstanding person who generally makes well informed decisions; despite this he dies. Even after the war Billy ends up doing things despite his best effort not to, like marrying Valencia: “Billy didn't want to marry ugly Valencia. She was one of the symptoms of his disease. He knew he was going crazy, when he heard himself proposing marriage to her” (Vonnegut 137). Billy’s free will has very little impact on his own life

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