Kurt Vonnegut

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 132
  • Published: December 3, 2012
Read full document
Text Preview
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most prominent writers of the early twentieth century. He based a majority of his writings on World War II, which he took part in. In his book “Slaughter House 5”, Vonnegut effectively uses his techniques of characterization, symbolism, and theme to establish the major themes of the novel.

Vonnegut constantly uses characterization throughout his novel. Vonnegut described one of his characters Billy Pilgrim as “...like a rock” (Vonnegut 8). He says this to show how Billy is a hardened veteran. Throughout his life, Billy runs up against forces that go against his free will. When Billy was a kid, his father let him sink into the deep end of a pool in order to teach him how to swim. Much to his father’s dismay, however, Billy prefers the bottom of the pool, but, against his free will to stay there, he is rescued Later, Billy is drafted into the war against his will. Even as a soldier, Billy is a joke, lacking training, supplies, and proper clothing. He bobs along like a puppet in Luxembourg, his civilian shoes flapping on his feet, and marches through the streets of Dresden draped in the remains of the scenery from a production of Cinderella. he phrase “So it goes” follows every mention of death in the novel, equalizing all of them, whether they are natural, accidental, or intentional, and whether they occur on a massive scale or on a very personal one. The phrase stands for a kind of comfort in the Tralfamadorian idea that although a person may be dead in a particular moment, he or she is alive in all the other moments of his or her life, which coexist and can be visited over and over through time travel. At the same time, though, the repetition of the phrase keeps a tally of the cumulative force of death throughout the novel, thus pointing out the tragic inevitability of death. “Billy is the man of this town” said by his barbara on pg 18 be captured at war would be horrible you do not know if you would survive or not. “He is a brave man keeping his head up” .

Billy survives a plane crash in Vermont; as he is recuperating, his wife dies in an accident. After returning home, Vonnegut writes that billy is tortured. He was captured while he was on a mission two others were captured as well. But billy was always in trouble but there was this man named roland weary who is a cruel insecure man who helped billy out through the war. He thought helping him through the war would make him a hero but it only made him a helping man. “He wished for death, but the thought of life kept him going.” (Vonnegut 56). Vonnegut uses this quote to helper his readers understand the theme that even when your down there is always hope. Its just terrifying to you and to your loved ones. Family would never know that you are captured till they get a letter saying you are dead. No family would want to realize that situation. “He is in a constant state of stage fright, he say, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to act in next” (pg 43) Billy picks up a half-empty bottle of champagne from a table. He watches a late-night documentary on American bombers and their gallant pilots in World War II. Slightly unstuck in time, Billy watches the movie forward and backward. Planes fly backward, magically quelling flames, drawing their fragmented bombs into steel containers, and sucking them back up into their bellies. Guns on the ground suck metal fragments from the pilots, crew, and planes. Weapons are shipped backed to factories, where they are carefully disassembled and broken down into their constituent minerals. The minerals are shipped to specialists all over the world who “hide them cleverly” in the ground, “so they never hurt anybody ever.” (pg 74)

By the ninth day of the boxcar journey, people are dying. Roland Weary, who is in another car, dies after making sure that everyone in the car knows who is responsible for his death: Billy Pilgrim.

A car thief from Cicero, Illinois, named Paul Lazzaro...
tracking img