PR to Slaughterhouse Five

After reading slaughterhouse five, I noticed the connection between the science fiction parts of this novel and the real, serious topics of war that are discussed. I think it is impressive how Vonnegut weaves a tragic war story into a humorous science fiction novel. It causes the readers to understand the effects of the war in a more comedic tone. Often I found myself questioning the importance or deeper meaning of some of the things that were written by Vonnegut. I noticed that I would search for a message, something that was conveyed through the crazy narratives in the story, but often there wasn’t one. The way Vonnegut writes Slaughterhouse Five is very straightforward and concise. To me this also indicated how war should not be glamorized and it showed the harsh realities of war. War is often viewed as heroic and the person is praised but Vonnegut writes in a very straightforward tone to show that while also talking about the PTSD Billy endured. 

Another thing that stood out to me was the non linear timeline in which slaughterhouse Five is written in. The non chronological order of Billy Pilgrim’s life highlighted the idea that he was unstuck in time. It created suspense in the book and made the reader’s question what was going to occur next. It also gave the book a bigger picture as it wasn’t one particular story we were reading about but rather many stories and many timelines. Vonnegut ties it all together in the end to create one story about all of Billy Pilgrim’s experiences. The narrative and stories we read about Billy’s experiences all travel with him as he becomes unstuck in time. This scattered timeline allowed Vonnegut to include every war experience that took place in different times. 

The saying “so it goes” impacted me as a reader as well. It was most often said after someone had died. It was a very nonchalant and unemotional response to the situation that had happened prior. To me, that emotional (or unemotional) response seemed like it was the normalized way death should be thought of. For Billy, given his experience with the tralfamadorians, he now perceives death in the same way that the tralfamadorians do. He thinks of death in a very nonchalant and unserious way as it is only a part of their lifetime that they are dead. The repeated phrase “so it goes” also showed how death was unavoidable. This leads us to the idea of free will. The idea of free will is illustrated by the tralfamadorians who are very comfortable with the idea that death is inevitable and how their fate cannot be changed. Billy then adopts this same belief of free will. It makes me question as a reader whether or not free will exists. Do we have a say in what happens? Can we change our outcomes or are they pre-decided for us already? 

Overall, Slaughterhouse Five was an interesting read and was definitely different from any of the books we have read thus far.


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