Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five as an Antiwar Rhetoric Sample Essay

An American author. Kurt Vonnegut was inspired by war to compose Slaughterhouse-Five. which reffers to a scientific discipline fiction or semi – autobiographical novel. Above all. I believe. this book should be seen as an antiwar novel. Vonnegut transmits his anti-war feelings to the readers through the novel’s chief character. Billy Pilgrim. the liteary techniques of the novel. viz. black temper. sarcasm and Tralfamadorians.

The really beginning of the novel tells the readers that the novel is an anti-war rhetoric. Kurt Vonnegut as the minor character writes in his ain voice and agrees that his novel would be an anti-war book in a conversation with Harrison Starr. In malice of the fact that such a book would be an anti-glacier book because a war merely as a glacier can non be stopped. what is suggested by Star. Vonnegut persues his thought. Kurt Vonnegut was a captive of war and experienced the firebombing of Dresden in Germany and the chief character of Slaughterhouse V. Billy Pilgrim. portions the experiences with the writer. I can truly state that by agencies of Billy’s point of position of the war. Kurt Vonnegut wanted to demo his ain perceptual experience of the war.

In the first chapter. while giving his book about Dresden to Sam. Vonegut says: “It is so short and disorderly and jangled. Sam. because there is nil intelligent to state about a slaughter. ” And he adds that everyone is supposed to be dead and everything is supposed to to be rather after a masacra. except for the birds which say: “Poo-tee-weet” ( Vonnegut 14 ) . This statement clearly shows Vonnegut’s experiencing against war and the bunk of it. The birds’ “Poo-tee-weet. ” which really means nil. may besides show the absurdness of war which is unlogical like the birds words. The clearest message and Vonnegut’s attitude towards war might be summed up in the incoherent words of birds.

An of import component proposing Vonnegut’s negative attitude towards war might be Billy’s attitude and behavior during the war. Whenever Billy’s life is in danger. he does non truly make anything to salvage himself. One of the soldiers. Roland Weary. saves Billy’s life in parlous state of affairss cussing him. kicking. slapping. doing him travel. This besides might be seen as an sarcasm because in Weary’s head. he invariably saves Billy from decease. but in fact he takes pleasance in crushing him. The storyteller reveals that Billy wanted to discontinue because he was hungry. cold. incompetent. He found no differences between walking and standing still ( Vonnegut 24-25 ) . It is clear to be noticed Billy as a inactive “participant” in the war. I believe that by agencies of Billy’s deficiency of moving. even unwillingness to salvage his ain life. Vonnegut wanted to stress the absurdness of war.

Vonnegut non merely talks about Billy Pilgrim’s experiences during the war. but besides Billy’s post war mundane life. After the war. the chief character is. to certain extent. insane. Vonnegut shows the destructive facet of war which. in instance of Billy. consequences in mental instability. An illustration would be when Vonnegut explains how he used to shout without any peculiar ground: “Every so frequently. for no evident ground. Billy Pilgrim would happen himself weeping” ( Vonnegut 44 ) . Billy visits on a regular basis the physician who is the lone individual who knows about these instable feelings. Having seen so many traumatising images during the bombardment of Dresden. Billy may endure from depression. All this indicates the hurtfullness of war and certainly shows Vonnegut’s anti-war sentiments.

One of the novel’s literary technique such as black temper might be besides seen as the author’s anti-war attitude. It may be easy observed in the Billy’s visual aspect description. During the war he is unrewarded. without a helmet. greatcoat. arm and what is more. without boots. He does non look like a soldier but like a “filthy flamingo” ( Vonnegut 24 ) . Vonnegut embellishes the range of black temper by agencies of sarcasm which frequently leads to absurdness. The best illustration would be the executing of an old high school instructor. Edgar Derby. While a whole metropolis gets burned down. and 1000s of people are killed. Derby is arrested for holding taken a teapot found in the ruins. He is given a regular test and he is changeable. Another illustration would be the decease of Maori Billy. who survives the firebombing. but dies subsequently from dry broken winds because his undertaking is to bury dead organic structures ( Vonnegut 157 ) . Another illustration of sarcasm might be the endurance of Billy and Weary. two unprepared soldiers. “disarmed” while the two lookouts. good soldiers were killed: “The two lookouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had merely been shot” ( Vonnegut 39 ) . The usage of black temper and sarcasm shows Vonnegut’s anti-war feelings.

Another manner in which Vonnegut shows his feeling against war is the existance of Tralfamadorians. The fact that Billy Pilgrim “escapes” to the Tralfamadorian universe might be seen as his manner to get away a universe destroyed by war. It is deserving adverting that Billy normally “escapes” when he is stressed from his experience of war on Earth. His time-travelling and trips on Tralfamadore planet seem to be a rationalizing phantasy. He images new himself and his new universe in order to be able to travel on life. In his created Universe free will does non be. It seems that for Billy everything was planned. framed and nil can be changed. Tralfamadorian says: “If I hadn’t spent so much clip analyzing Earthlings…I wouldn’t have any thought what was meant by ‘free will. ’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the existence. and I have studied studies on one hundred more. Merely on Earth is at that place any talk of free will” ( Vonnegut 62 ) . It seems for me that in a manner Billy prefers to believe that the war had to go on. it was ineluctable. Such perceptual experience is perhabs better than gestating war as human thought. which for Billy and Vonnegut is an absurdness.

Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five can be seen as a semi-autobiographical novel. scientific discipline fiction novel and what is more. as an anti-war rhetoric. The alone combination of autobiographical elements and scientific discipline fiction may back up Vonnegut’s anti-war feelings.


Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse – Five. Vintage edition. 1991