Satire in Slaughterhouse Five

Topics: Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Kilgore Trout Pages: 3 (851 words) Published: September 18, 2008
In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut uses satire in the topics of war, aliens, fate and the reasons for life itself. In Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the author uses many literary devices to bring across his point including black humor, irony, wit and sarcasm. He mainly uses satire throughout the book. Satire is a literary device found in works of literature that uses irony and humor to mock social convention, another work of art, or anything its author thinks ridiculous to make a point.

Vonnegut is Kilgore Trout in the novel. The first line of the novel is “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time"(23). By using the word "unstuck", Vonnegut implies that Billy has now become free. Consequently, Vonnegut's narrative, as well as Billy, has achieved a freedom of sorts. Vonnegut will not be tied down by the conventions of time; now he will be able to place Billy in any time frame he chooses. Vonnegut moves Billy rapidly, having him experience a small fragment of his life before taking him off again. This creates a collage effect in the novel, which is made up of bits and pieces of Billy's life. By fragmenting Billy's life like this, Vonnegut is able to bring the events that comprise his life closer together. One minute Billy is marching through a forest and the next he is waiting at a public pool for his father to teach him how to swim. This constant fragmentation of Billy's life serves, ironically, to unify Billy's character for the reader.

The aliens are used as satire. Due to the fragmentation of time there is no past, present or future in Slaughterhouse-Five. This view of all time existing at once becomes a lesson that Billy learns from a group of aliens called Tralfamadorians. Their way of looking at time is comparable to a human's way of looking at "a stretch of the Rocky Mountains"(27). The Tralfamadorian way of looking at the universe, the acceptance that all things good or bad are destined to happen become what Billy believes. The reader cannot help...
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