The Humor of Slaughterhouse-Five

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The Humor of Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five has a dark sense of humor that accentuates Vonnegut’s nihilistic view of the human condition. The humor in Slaughterhouse-Five is uniquely dark, twisted, and overly ironic. So it goes. Throughout the novel, Vonnegut would go out of his way to humorously show that the human condition has hit rock bottom. For example, take the character Howard W Campbell, Jr., an American who betrayed his country for Nazi Germany. In the story, Campbell visits the American prisoners and strikes up an offer: if the soldiers pledge allegiance to Campbell’s German led “Free American Corps” and fight against the Communist Russians, they would be given food for compensation. As Adios, Strunk and White describes, Vonnegut uses "Devil's Advice" in this scenario: he addresses the certainty of an incoming invasion from a potential enemy. He proposes the best solution to combat the supposed threat: join forces with the current enemy. Vonnegut exposes the fact that the human condition reduces society not to fight using the forces of good to fight evil, but debases us fully and has us joining the forces of evil to fight evil. It’s outrageous to see that people are willing to fight two oppressive, opposing ideologies against each other in the name of freedom. Vonnegut takes another jab at the human condition by introducing the character Kilgore Trout. Trout is an eccentric science-fiction writer whose work is revered by Billy Pilgrim. Trout has written numerous stories within Slaughterhouse-Five, including a peculiar one titled The Gutless Wonder. Trout’s book is centered around a human-like robot that would mercilessly kill people by dropping flammable gasses on them, yet the humans hated him because of his halitosis, eventually accepting him after the offending breath was cured. It is also mentioned that book became popular because “it predicted the widespread use of burning jellied gasoline on human beings”. Using mocking...
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