Slaughterhouse Five – Personal Response

To me, personally, the novel “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut took some time to get used to. The first couple of pages I was extremely confused and could not really follow the timeline, until eventually I had adjusted to Vonnegut’s chosen form of writing: basing his novel on time-jumps. No more than two pages at a time focus on ongoings in one time era and so following the main character Billy’s thoughts, feelings and experiences was struggling. 

I however eventually really got to enjoy this form of writing due to an increase in tension and an enhancement in shown character development. Stopping the plot in a certain time-jump abruptly and only continuing further a paragraph or even a few pages later, kept my interest and tension ongoing and strong. It led me to explore the meaning of these interruptions continuously and understand the author’s intention through the meaning of said time-jumps. Also, watching Billy’s character development over time was extremely crucial in understanding his behaviours and actions in the present. If the whole storyline would have just been based in the Dresden war, I don’t think any reader could’ve understood what was happening. The way time-jumps and the form of writing aligned, therefore made it seem like they were symmetric poetry – watching Billy unpack his past, immediately made sense in the present, as well as the future. What made it seem so connected and natural, was that throughout the different stages, there was always one thing that was similar or the same in other stages of the story. For example, the three words “So it goes..” were always used when describing that someone had died, no matter what time era the storyline was in. This type of repetition allowed everything to come together and make it seem like it had only been one time era all along. It was essentially what made Billy from being stuck in time, transform into infinite possibilities and being unstuck in time.

Overall, though, I can definitely say that I am impressed with how Vonnegut managed to make his content fully match up with his style of writing. He was able to not only capture the key difference time-jumps can make in learning as much as possible about one narration, but also allow readers to fantasize and possibly identify themselves within all levels of the story.

2 thoughts on “Slaughterhouse Five – Personal Response”

  1. Excellent personal response Annika. I agree how at first the reader is confused by the nonlinear timeline of the novel but it does come together as we get closer to the end. The random change in memories and time travel kept my interest as well.

  2. Nice personal response Annika, I liked how you kept a common thread throughout. Your writing was clear and concise. I completely agree with your points on how Vonnegut;’s writing was very well done. Nice job!

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