Prior to the introduction of, Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic that the book addresses. The primary theme is the destructiveness of war, and its impact on individuals, as well as the illusion of free will(20th century).
In Chapter 1, we are given a summary-like style. As the timeline jumps around in no chronological order, it was initially difficult to follow along. In Chapter 2, a sense of familiarity begins as we are given a clearer image of the fabricated world as we follow Billy Pilgrim into the war zone of 1944. During this, Pilgrim begins time-traveling through multiple future and past events. As Pilgrim time travels and recounts his experiences with the Tralfamadorians, his daughter, Barbara Pilgrim calls him “insane.” The non-linear structure first confused me as it challenged my conventional expectations of how a story progresses. However, I found myself being more interactive with the story as I attempted to construct a chronological timeline using the bits and pieces each chapter provides. Additionally, I found myself relating to Pilgrim as I too was tied down from past experiences at one point, similar to how the chaotic timeline of the story reflects how Pilgrim is unable to escape his traumatic experiences such as witnessing the bombing of Dresden. The chaotic timeline also makes the story seem to never make progress and end.
Not only was the narrative style of Slaughterhouse-Five different, but the content was significantly different when compared to the previous novels I had read with the class, which had a more conventional chronological structure. Both The Awakening and The Color Purple, explore the societal expectations and gender roles around the 20th century of people, specifically women. Despite Slaughterhouse-Five having a significantly different theme, it still connects to the societal expectations of man during global conflicts. The more traditional narrative style of the two novels provides a clear and coherent explanation, while the non-linear structure of Slaughterhouse-Five requires is to actively engage with the story. Although I found my experiences relating to Pilgrim, I often found myself having more difficulties in truly empathizing with him and found myself often detached as I was unable to create a clear world with the characters of the story.
Overall, I found myself being unable to determine if I liked the book. The unique structure certainly provides an interesting aspect to understand the story. However, I often found myself being confused as scenes are often briefly mentioned with little information regarding the world, thus, making me feel detached from the story. So it goes.