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.


Personal Response – The Color Purple

“The Color Purple” written by Alice Walker is a dairy-like novel that reflects the social background of colored people in 1907-1949 Georgia, United States. This book explores the theme through the view of one character – Celie, as she navigates a world full of abuse and discrimination. 

In my opinion, the highlight of the book is the evolution of the Character Celie as she slowly builds up her own life throughout the book. She had the worst starting on the book’s first page as she got raped by her stepfather at the age of 14. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a young girl, and I believe that might have been common in the colored community back in that time since colored people did not have enough social status, and no one would be punished for such an inhumane act. Celie bows her head to reality and accepts her tragic life as a freedomless slave in Mr.___ Family in the first part of the story. However, after the arrival of Shug Avery (Mr.__’s crush), Celie changes rapidly. She began to raise awareness of her rights towards many things such as life without sexual and physical abuse. I have observed her significant changes throughout from mid to the end of the book, as she gained back freedom and started to consider what love is, etc. 

Alice Walker’s writing is raw and direct, she tore off the FIG leaf of the people of the time by addressing difficult and painful themes like racism, sexism, and violence. Yet, in this dark setting, we can still see love, self-discovery, and the importance of connecting with others. 

This book is a powerful exploration of human’s spirit capacity to endure and overcome adversity. It explored the strength of women and the bonds that can develop between them. Furthermore, many traditional thoughts were challenged and questioned in this book, such as homosexuality, and the rights of colored and women. This book has taught and reminded me of the importance of empathy, resilience, and the potential for growth and change even in the most challenging circumstances.

The Awakening: a necessary process

Recently, we have read the book  “The Awakening”, written by Kate Chopin. It’s an interesting book that has a really special theme, even nowadays when we’re more open. The book is about a poor woman named Edna and her unsuccessful marriage (from her perspective). The setting of the book is Louisiana in the late 19th century when women were not allowed to choose their life path. In such a background, it’s impressive or horrifying that a young lady (at the age of 28) would act “anti-society” and betrayed the “law of morality”. It’s agreed internationally that women have equal rights as men, but it wasn’t a thing back in the time this story has taken place. It’s a tragedy that many lost their freedoms and suffered from classism, but it’s a necessary process in terms of development. Humans tend to learn from their own mistakes, therefore it’s not quite possible that we would actively search for mistakes and solve them.