Use of Irony in Slaughterhouse-Five

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Commentary of How Irony is used in the Book

In the book Slaughterhouse 5, the author, Kurt Vonnegut, gives a brief account of his life that spans throughout World War II and his post-war traumatic war experience. The whole book plays throughout time as he travels in his thoughts around the places he has been to, implying that there is no present, future or past but just time, accompanied by a steady and regular pulse-like pace throughout the book. There is also a thin layer of mood spread out across the book, which is expressed through a pitiful connotation. Kurt uses irony to support the illusion of free will in the book, by contrasting “free will” and “destiny”.

Irony, as the main literary device used in the book, outlines the plot's main theme, giving it a greater meaning. It also works with the theme of the illusion of free will helping the “Illusion of Free Will” in this book because everybody in the society believes that they have a choice; yet as Billy figured out this is not completely true. In the greater picture, the Tralfamadorians, intelligent life else where in the universe, have explained to him the meaning of the fourth dimension and that everything is there and we are just sort of “traveling through”. This then reinforces a sense of apparent free will, when it doesn't really exist, as demonstrated to Billy by the Tralfamadorians, which is important to understand this text and how this then all relates to irony.

The whole book is underscored by recurring irony but a few stand out due to their considerable impact on the context and value of the book. To begin with there is the protagonist Billy, a coward in the war. He allows a sniper to take a second shot at him and moans the whole time that he wants to die. Alongside him are two scouts who are fit, prepared and armed, and who hold the better chance at survival. The irony is that instead of Billy, who is in desperation to die, the scouts are the ones who get killed. In exactly that manner,...
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