Ivan’s Personal Response – Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse-Five is written by Kurt Vonnegut, a former WWII veteran fighting in Germany. The novel provides a realistic account of the experiences of an American POV (Prisoner of War) and the devastation of the destruction in the famous German city – Dresden. 

One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its unconventional narrative structure. Vonnegut’s use of time travel and the idea that all moments happen in time tend to exist simultaneously challenge the way we all think and understand storytelling traditionally. This non-linear narrative mirrors Billy becoming “unstuck in time”, which makes me question the way we perceive events. Moments in life are similarly quite complex and do not necessarily happen in a neat and linear progression, much like the way we remember, anticipate, and live through our own lives.

Beyond its narrative innovation, “Slaughterhouse-Five” also serves as a powerful anti-war statement. The author himself fought in WWII, and his portrayal of the firebombing of Dresden is thought-provoking. This book suggests the absurdity of war and the devastating impact on everyone within it. The phrase “So it goes” appears multiple times throughout the novel, just like a reminder that we cannot do anything to stop deaths, and how powerless the people are inside wars, and even becoming numb to life and death.

In relation to two books we read before, “The Awakening” and “The Color Purple”, these three books are innovative, often challenging our conventional thoughts and ideas but also remind us of some of the valuable personality and ways to think in life. The book “The Awakening” is about self-discovery and liberation. The awakening of the protagonist to her desires signifies a woman’s right to have control over her own body and identity, which is the main tenet of feminism.  “The Color Purple” on the other hand, explains the importance of resilience, redemption, and what is love. Breaking the silence surrounding domestic and sexual abuse, the book explores the situation of black women during that period and challenges the conventional thoughts at the time.


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