Slaughterhouse-Five

In Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, we appreciate an unusual type of writing that causes feelings of craziness in the reader. First, we start off with a fictional character that goes through the writer’s personal experiences, and later on, the writer also appears in the story, which causes great confusion. The story is also written in a non-linear order, where the story jumps from one point of the character’s life to another and back to some other event, making most readers confused and lost. And as the story goes on, the reader can notice some repetitive descriptions in the book, and the writer did it on purpose to make the reader feel like they’re going crazy.

The main character in the book, Billy Pilgrim, goes through Kurt Vonnegut’s experiences, especially the World War 2 ones. Yet, that wasn’t enough for Vonnegut, he had to point out specific stuff that happened to him through his own character. There are parts where the writer talks about a random non-important character and later writes “That was I. That was me. That was the author of the book.”(p.125). This causes an irregular type of fourth wall break between the reader and the book, to remember that the writer was there. However, it not only does that, but it also generates greater confusion for the reader.

In the novel, there are other things that may cause further confusion for the reader. The non-linear chronological order of the story is one of the most confusing things in the story, especially in the beginning. The writer never lets the reader know what’s next, in a moment the novel takes you to a field of flowers, then you find yourself escaping from german soldiers. The constant change in scenario and time gives the reader a feeling of madness and losing themselves between the timelines.

As the novel goes on, the reader can find descriptive sentences that reappear throughout the whole book. The sentences are weirdly unique descriptions, the repetition of  “blue and ivory”, “nestled like spoons” or “mustard gas and roses” gives even more feeling of craziness to the reader. Repeating meaningless descriptions can cause the reader to believe there is a connection or meaning between them. This makes the reader feel even crazier than before.

In conclusion, Vonnegut wrote a crazy novel that makes the reader go crazy too. The writing of all the points viewed before all have a purpose, making the reader feel lost, confused, and crazy. The writer, Vonnegut, knew what he was doing by writing the novel in this peculiar way.

Response to Walker’s Blues by Byerman

Keith Byerman’s analysis was extremely dissatisfying to read. The way Byerman organized his essay was confusing. Instead of focusing more on analyzing the book, Byerman decided to summarize it for the reader, and not an accurate retelling at all. However, some points did intrigue me, but others make me wonder if he read the book. It felt like Byerman took away all the emotion and feelings, and wrote a null and desensitizing response to the book. Byerman compares the “awakening” of Celie to Cinderella, taking away all of the feelings Celie went through before this so-called awakening.

Pygmalion Personal Response

In Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw presents ideas around social classes and gender using the characteristics of Eliza and Higgins. This is especially evident when it comes to Higgins being childish and Eliza being irritating.

Eliza Doolittle is presented as a low social class flower girl, annoying and asking higher class people for money. Shaw shows her as a person who completely violates the English language. Eliza annoys Higgins, for example when Higgins says “You have caused me to lose my temper: a thing that has hardly ever happened to me before.” (p.53). This quote lets us notice how Eliza has the ability to irritate Higgins, more than most people. Shaw uses Eliza’s character traits to develop readers’ perception of her as annoying and needy. Inturn Shaw develops a relationship between annoyance and low social classes and uses Eliza as a representation of the generalization of the ignorant and poor.

However, Eliza’s nuisance of a character could be related to the way Higgins and Pickering treat her. Since Higgins and Pickering met Eliza, they acted child-like, by making a bet in regards to Eliza’s improvement in language and manners. It’s even pointed out when Mrs. Higgins says “You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll”. This shows how normal men played with women like they were dolls in the early 1900s.

Shaw’s use of characterization shows how annoying Eliza Doolittle is, and how childlike Higgins and Pickering are. There are likely many reasons why her character is irritating. Possibly the way she’s treated by society, for being a young, lower-class woman with a loud voice and a disgusting impossible-to-understand accent has resulted in her annoying character. Or rather is the perception of her character as annoying caused by these factors. Shaw raises awareness of our own personal biases of character perceptions. Similarly, Higgins and Pickering manipulate a poor young woman, changing her future for a childish bet. This represents the little care men have for woman’s lives.