Discussion Questions

1. Slaughterhouse-Five has elements of several different literary genres, including fiction and nonfiction. Identify the various genres. What is the effect of combining these elements? Why do you suppose Vonnegut chooses this approach?

2. Discuss Billy Pilgrim as the protagonist of the novel. What kind of character is he? What is he struggling against? Does Billy change as a character by the end of the novel? Explain your answer using specific examples from the text.

3. Kurt Vonnegut was, in fact, a prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden and witnessed the annihilation of the city as he describes in the novel. Speculate as to why Vonnegut does not cast himself as the novel’s protagonist. How might the novel be different if a fictional version of Vonnegut, rather than Billy Pilgrim, were its central character?

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