Key Facts

Title: Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

Author: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Type of book: Novel

Genre: Literary fiction, antiwar novel, historical fiction, autobiographical fiction, science fiction

Original language: English

Written in: The United States, between 1945 and 1968

First published: 1969

Narrator: Kurt Vonnegut in the role of an intrusive narrator

Protagonist: Billy Pilgrim

Point of view: First-person limited in the first and last chapters, from the perspective of the author. In the rest of the novel, Vonnegut writes mostly in third person as an omniscient narrator who often injects his own point of view. 

Tense: The novel is written primarily in the past tense, with switches to present and future tenses as the narrative skips around in time. 

Set in: Germany and Luxembourg during World War II; Dresden, Germany, in 1967; various locations in the United States at various points in time from the 1920s to 1976. Writing as himself, Vonnegut sets the first and last chapters in 1968. Billy Pilgrim’s adult life takes place primarily in Ilium, New York, and he also spends time as the subject of a zoological exhibit on the fictional planet Tralfamadore. 

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