So it goes

Slaughterhouse-Five written by Kurt Vonnegut is a novel that left a profound impact on me, primarily because of its unique narrative technique and the differences it presents when compared to the other novels we’ve read so far, “The Awakening” and “The Color Purple.”

Vonnegut’s narrative approach in Slaughterhouse-Five is unconventional. He blends science fiction, satire, and memoir, that creates a narrative structure that is fragmented. The story unfolds in a seemingly random manner, jumping back and forth in time and space. This approach mirrors the protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s experience of becoming “unstuck in time,” and it forces the reader to confront the chaotic and absurd nature of war and the human condition. This narrative style allows Vonnegut to comment on war and the traumatic effects it has on individuals.

In contrast to The Awakening by Kate Chopin and The Color Purple by Alice Walker, where the narrative is more linear and traditional, Slaughterhouse-Five changes our expectations of how a story should be told. Edna Pontellier’s journey to self-discovery in The Awakening is presented in a chronological and thoughtful manner, while Celie’s transformation in The Color Purple is conveyed through a series of letters, making it intimate and personal. These novels provide a more straightforward path for readers to follow and engage with the characters’ emotional development.

So it goes (p.15)

This phrase is repeated throughout the novel each time there is a mention of death, no matter how significant or insignificant. It serves as a commentary on the inevitability and indifference of death and the senselessness of war.

“So it goes” projects the novel’s central themes of fatalism, the absurdity of life, and the nature of time. In the face of death and destruction, there is a certain resignation and acceptance of the way things are, as if to say that death is an inescapable part of the human experience. This phrase has a profound, almost haunting quality, emphasizing the sense of futility and helplessness in the face of the chaos of war and life’s unpredictability. It reminds us of the book’s anti-war message and the need to reflect on the senseless violence that humans often perpetrate on one another.

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