Slaughterhouse Five Setting

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The story told in Slaughterhouse Five is very much unique to its setting and the time in which it occurs. The story is told by Kurt Vonnegut, who is also a minor character in the book, about the life experiences of Billy Pilgrim during World War II. The story centers on a specific event that occurs during the war, the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany. This specific bombing has gone virtually unnoticed by Americans throughout history since the war due to its location, being in Germany. However, certainly the scrutiny would be much greater if such a horrendous bombing was inflicted upon Britain, America, or another Allied power. In addition, the story itself would not have been told if it were not for Vonnegut’s own unique situation in the war, being held captive safe under Dresden during it’s bombing. Vonnegut’s narrative of Billy Pilgrim reaches farther than the setting of the war in Germany. Throughout the novel, Billy experiences flashbacks and flashforwards that take him back to his earlier years as a child and forward to his life after the war. One particular location in which Billy Pilgrim frequents is the planet of Tralfamadore, the faraway home of his alien captors. Following the war, Billy proclaims that aliens abducted him on his daughter’s wedding night. However, he explains that he was still able to attend this wedding, for the Tralfamadore locales traveled through time, through the fourth dimension. The aliens, their philosophies, and their planet impact the flow of the story and the ideals of Billy himself. Without the bizarre happenings that Billy insists occurs while in the alien’s company, Billy’s character would be drastically different with the absence of his unique outlook on death. Also, Vonnegut’s goal of revealing the ignorance of the atrocities performed by humans would go unseen without the introduction of the Tralfamadorians and their philosophies on death.
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