Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut: A Literary Analysis

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While fiction may be the art of fantasy and fairy tales, the messages that fiction bears are far from the realm of time-travel and princesses. As Clark Zlotchew declares, the notion that fiction is the lesser genre is simply absurd. Fiction is the vehicle through which moral lessons and themes are delivered to the reader, something that cannot be accomplished in quite the same way in the straight forward, text of non-fiction. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a testament to this fact. While often regarded as science fiction or metafiction, it nevertheless incorporates the real experiences of Vonnegut in the bombing of Dresden into the fictional story of the novel’s main character, Billy Pilgrim. With this fictional model…show more content…
And this is exactly what Vonnegut is attempting to accomplish. As Vonnegut concludes in the first chapter of the novel, “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is,” (Vonnegut 19). It is simply impossible to serve such devastation any justice, even more so when Vonnegut is faced with the reality of himself being a survivor. The guilt Vonnegut feels is obvious when analyzing Vonnegut’s quote at the conclusion of the novel, in which he states, “there was nothing appropriate to say. One thing was clear: Absolutely everybody in the city was supposed to be dead, regardless of what they were, and that anybody that moved in it represented a flaw in the design. There were to be no moon men at all,” (Vonnegut 180). With these two quotes in juxtaposition of each other, the guilt that Vonnegut is greeted with is more than clear. Vonnegut is the flaw in the design. Kurt Vonnegut should be…show more content…
In the world of the Tralfamadorians, “All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains,” (Vonnegut 26). This is a message that Vonnegut not only emphasizes as a means to personally cope with his own life, but also a message that he directly incorporates into the text. As Tralfamadorians view life, and even their own novels, “there is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects…[Only] many marvelous moments seen all at one time,” (Vonnegut 88). As Vonnegut presents Billy as, “unstuck in time,” he presents his novel all at once, in no chronological order, expressing direct implementation of this concept in physical text (Vonnegut 23). C. Barry Chabot furthers this viewpoint, asserting that although this viewpoint allows the Tralfamadorians to, “attend only to the happy moments...Such a policy obviously removes the sting from disappointment and suffering,” (Chabot 211). While this philosophy is exactly what Vonnegut is in search of, Maurice J. O’Sullivan Jr. argues that his adoption of such a system would be a denial of his humanity, a problem that Vonnegut presents through Billy Pilgrim (O’Sullivan 185). While Vonnegut

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