Title: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Release Date: October 6th, 1998
Genre: Autobiography, war drama
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
Kurt Vonnegut is known to be one of the greatest American writers. Slaughterhouse Five is one of his most famous novels, next to Cat’s Cradle. I tend to have difficulties putting into words how a book makes me feel and even though this book made me have conflicting feelings, I know exactly how to describe it.
Following Billy Pilgrim, this book is chopped up into different stages of his life, intertwining the scenes together to connect them to one specific moment, the Dresden bombing. Every moment in the book, and every person leading up to the moment of the bombing, is influential in what would be the result of Billy’s reactions to the war. The simple, but yet complex images Vonnegut writes about, portrays a world that is very much around us. Without the strategic, and dare I say, genius, composition of the book, the impactfulness of the story, would not have had the effectiveness it did. Vonnegut’s make up of Slaughterhouse Five, however subtle as it may be, heavily affected the end result of how this book and its message impacts the reader.
This book focuses on what results from the horrors of war. However, it is not that simple. Not even on the surface is this just a book about a guy that has to deal with the mental tolls the war has put on him. It is so much more than that. Slaughterhouse Five, is about the obliviousness to the truth, because the majority of people do not want to read about the harsh, unwritten facts that these men actually had to face. Instead, we take what we hear, and although we know there was more to it than what was said, we do not want to break this bubble of blissful ignorance surrounding us. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, was just a regular man before the war, but when he came out of it, he was changed because of what he had to lay witness to, even though he was very under qualified to do so.
Slaughterhouse Five, yes, is an anti war book, but it is not simply stating that war is bad. Kurt Vonnegut, not only compels his readers to continue reading, but even through the bland exterior, is able to make you think about life, and not in a “big picture” kind of way, but in a personal and intimate way that pertains to you.