My thoughts on: Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five was quite overwhelming to read. It took time to get used to the concept of being “unstuck in time” I found it confusing that he is in Dresden as a prisoner of war, and then suddenly he is back to the future or back in time. I often had to remind myself that Billy is not Vonnegut and that some of his experiences are fiction; this made it hard for me to differentiate between Vonnegut’s actual experiences, such as hiding in the meat locker during the bombing and the fiction portion of the book. This made me wonder where his random imagination originated. Vonnegut’s unique way of mixing an autobiography and science fiction was occasionally hard to make sense of and comprehend, especially at the start of the book. However, as I kept reading, the random bits of information from his time travelling presented at the beginning of the book slowly started to make sense. I gradually got used to the non-chronological way of storytelling Vonnegut used and how billy and the Tralfalmadorians view life.
I enjoyed reading this book more than the other books we read in class. Vonnegut’s humorous way of writing his own experiences in the war was something I had never read before. At first, it confused me why Vonnegut used a very neutral phrase, “So it goes,” whenever Billy encountered death because death is generally a negative and upsetting event. As I kept reading, I noticed the number of times Billy had to come across somebody’s death and the repetition of the phrase. I noticed that this was his way of facing death rather than accepting it.
The way Vonnegut was able to write this book in a humourous way, even though it discusses serious topics, made it easy for people to read about an upsetting topic. I liked how this book made me think about many genres and not only about war. Vonnegut succeeded in including science fiction, psychology and many other genres that a regular anti-war book would not include. In the first chapter, when Vonnegut visits his old war buddy (p 11), Bernard V. O’Hare, Vonnegut meets O’Hare’s wife, Mary. Mary exclaims that she does not want Vonnegut to portray war as a glamorous event because of her anxiety about losing her children in war. Vonnegut promises that his book will not become one of the movies that are “war-loving” (p 15). Vonnegut succeeds in doing as promised, making the book anti-war.
Trying to understand Billy’s time travelling and the Tralfalmadorian wisdom was a struggle initially as it was very out of the ordinary. Towards the end of the book, I was able to appreciate the Tralfalmadorian perspective on life. For example, they view life and death as indestructible and how Tralmalmadorians ignore the negative and focus on the positive. Billy admired the Tralfalmadorians and wanted humans to become more like them so that humans would stop desiring to become better than everyone and that it would not result in war. Vonnegut’s use of Tralfalmador and the Tralfalmadorians showed his desire to want the real world to become more like how life is on their planet. It successfully showed how hostile humans can be while still making it enjoyable for the audience to read. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was something I had never read before, and it was enjoyable even though it was about a depressing topic.

One thought on “My thoughts on: Slaughterhouse-Five”

  1. Great analysis of the book and an interesting insight into your thoughts on Vonnegut’s way of storytelling. I especially liked the parts where you not only mentioned how his creative imagination made you wonder where it originated from and whether or not that might have something to do with his previous experiences, but also the way you described your thoughts on Billy’s encounters with death. It really highlights your personal engagement towards the perception of the book’s central message.

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