Personal Response to Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five”

After reading slaughterhouse five I was left confused and questioning a lot of what this book talks about. Kurt Vonnegut’s writing technique creates a storm of ideas and random points in the story. Slaughterhouse five did not have a linear plot, it didn’t really have a plot at all. The story is riddled with time and jumps through strange and random moments in the life of the strange and random character “Billy Pilgrim”. I believe this craziness of the story is what really helps the reader to understand (ironically) and really think critically about their own lives and mentalities.


Vonnegut has no general direction in his story, Billy is constantly jumping around the different stages of his life, and often times we witness traumatic and normally life-disrupting events for other people, but Billy goes through all the craziness with this strange very subtle monotone humor and it doesn’t seem to really affect him to the extent that a normal person would. This really made me think because personally some of these events would alter the direction or some aspect of my life, but Vonnegut made these events seem so insignificant in the greater span of life with the “tralfamadorian” idea that we are experiencing every moment of our lives always. This simply added to all the craziness because it’s very hard to wrap your head around a concept like this. 


The crazy and senseless story affected me personally and really raised some questions for me because I had to be complacent with the fact that there wasn’t really an “ending” (at least a typical one in literature), to this book.  I believe this crazy and random story had this effect because this book helps to illustrate what life is really like for humans, we act like everything is so normal when really what is going on in the world is just craziness. Us humans don’t want to come to terms that we are all going to die one day yet we let ourselves plague the world with global warming, wars, violence, and discrimination, and all without or with very little intervention when there is intervention it is most often just the addition of violence. This is what the “tralfamadorian” philosophy and the utter craziness of this book made me really think about. 


The “tralfamadorians” represent a perfect society that is almost directly opposite to human society. You can argue that tralfamadorians do have violence/wars, but they do not try to justify the violence or anything they believe they do not have free will and what happens will happen. I do not believe that this is a “perfect” way to think though. I do think however that it is a much more rational view on things than those that humans think, Billy is constantly criticized and called crazy for his views. Billy’s philosophy is so much simpler than the human society which I think is why it’s so un-accepted. The only thing that would make sense in the crazy book about this crazy world would be a crazy philosophy about the craziest things that humans experience. For that reason, I believe Kurt Vonnegut’s writing technique was very powerful and really helps the reader to inquire about the human nature and flaws that we all have because it allows you to read how crazy our world really is without being written about a real person. I know this response is very jumbled but it is hard to write a straightforward response about a book that is backwards.

One thought on “Personal Response to Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five””

  1. Hi Jackson, I liked how you talked about the similarities and differences between Tralfamadorians and humans and the effect of that on the questions raised and the reader’s ideas. The idea that having a “crazy” story is a better way to make sense of the book effectively because our world is crazy, and therefore having a crazy story makes it more logical in a way, is a fascinating idea. We are often used to seeing the standard linear and straightforward model of storytelling, which is often easy for us to comprehend as the best method, but you argue that is not always the case which I admire.

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