“O peace! How many wars were waged in thy name”(Alexander Pope.) Kurt Vonnegut’s acclaimed novel, Slaughterhouse Five is a gripping book that follows the scattered like of Billy Pilgrim as he jumps through time and tries to understand how life is supposed to be viewed. The novel presents new and fascinating ideas about time and how life can be viewed. Vonnegut intended for the novel to be about the appalling world of war; Yet, when reading the book, it’s hard to tell if the book is supposed to be an anti-war novel, or a book about the life and time of Billy Pilgrim. Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five was a failure. The narrative of Billy Pilgrim and strangely relatable concept of Tralfamadorian time completely overshadow the hallowing imagery of war. However, Vonnegut intentionally did this to make the point that war is a failure, thus so is his book about war.
There’s no doubt that Slaughterhouse Five is a failure, even the author himself admits it. When speaking about the novel in the introductory chapter, he says this: “This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five, 28.) The pillar of salt is a reference to the story of Lot’s wife. A biblical story, about a family who was warned by God to flee the city they lived in before be punished the city and destroyed it. As they fled, God told Lot and his family not to look back. Lot’s wife did look back on the burning city where all the people she had grown accustomed to used to live. Then God punished her for looking back by turning her into a pillar of salt. Here Vonnegut is showing how he also looked back, instead of just moving on. He is explaining just how difficult it is to look back on the traumatizing horrors of war. Revisiting all those memories was so shocking that it made him paralyzed with fear, unable to move on, like a pillar of salt. As a pillar of salt, it’s extremely difficult to...
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