Slaughterhouse Five Rhetorical Analysis Essays

Slaughterhouse Five Literary Analysis

Baruch Spinoza once said “Experience teaches us no less clearly than reason, that men believe themselves free, simply because they are conscious of their actions and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.” He compared free-will with destiny and ended up that what we live and what we think are all results of our destiny; and the concept of the free-will as humanity know is just the awareness of the situation. Similarly, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five explores this struggle between free-will and destiny, and illustrates the idea of time in order to demonstrate that there is no free-will in war; it is just destiny. Vonnegut conveys this through irony, symbolism and satire.
Time concept is a complex idea that resist full understanding thus we can only percept it and determinism is a belief that is adopted by whose can percept time better than the others. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim is kidnapped by Tralfamadorians, who are aliens that can see the fourth dimension. While he was explaining the notion of time to Billy, he uses simile “seeing all time as you might see a stretch of Rocky Mountains.”(85). Kurt Vonnegut indicates that what people live in the present is just an allusion of time. He juxtaposes Billy with Tralfamadorians to show this allusion. While Billy only sees in three dimensions, Tralfamadorians can see the fourth dimension as well. And in the mountain example Billy can only see the 3 side of the mountain, whereas Tralfamadorians see 4 side of it, but they all live in an allusion, because time is such an idea that it is made of infinite sides. It is impossible to dispose of this allusion and see the whole perspective. Vonnegut uses the symbolism in order to show that free-will is just a hoax appeared in the allusion of time; but since Tralfamadorians can see 1 more side than Billy, they could understand free will is just an hoax. Tralfamadorians clearly utter “only on Earth is there any talk of free-will.”(86). Kurt Vonnegut clearly indicates that time is not permutable. It was, is and always will be the same as it was created. “All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations,” (85) And Vonnegut even test this by giving Billy the ability time traveling. Although Billy travel in time, he cannot change what happened in the past. In fact he sees his death, but can’t do anything to change it. “I, Billy Pilgrim will die, have died and always die on February thirteenth, 1976” (140) This unchangeable of time shows that proceed from past to future and nothing can change the sequence of this progression. This is like the domino’s movement its movement determined by the laws of physics everything is bounded in each other if you take one domino out than the movement will stop in this case if we change the past there will be no future. Ironically even Tralfamadorians do live in time, they still struggle against constraints on their free-will and this is almost...

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Satire in Slaughterhouse Five Essay

862 WordsSep 29th, 20084 Pages

In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut uses satire in the topics of war, aliens, fate and the reasons for life itself. In Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the author uses many literary devices to bring across his point including black humor, irony, wit and sarcasm. He mainly uses satire throughout the book. Satire is a literary device found in works of literature that uses irony and humor to mock social convention, another work of art, or anything its author thinks ridiculous to make a point. Vonnegut is Kilgore Trout in the novel. The first line of the novel is “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time"(23). By using the word "unstuck", Vonnegut implies that Billy has now become free. Consequently, Vonnegut's narrative, as well as Billy,…show more content…

The Tralfamadorians, who explain this nature of time and existence to Billy, are shown as enlightened creatures while the humans back on earth are seen as backwards -- to such an extent that they believe in free will. Billy towards the end of his life becomes a preacher of these virtues of existence taught to him by his zookeepers on Tralfamadore, going around and speaking about his experiences and his acquired knowledge. This is ironic, because he is attempting to reverse the steady path of life, even time itself. War is the third topic that is heavily satirized in Slaughterhouse Five. First, Billy almost gets killed because he is time-traveling. Second of all, Vonnegut always says “so it goes” (12) whenever someone dies, so it sort of mocks death. Also, he is given a woman’s jacket when he becomes a POW and it mocks his position in the war also. On the nights of February 13-14 in 1944 the city of Dresden, Germany was subjected to one of the worst air attacks in the history of man. By the end of the bombing 135,000 to 250,000 people had been killed by the combined forces of the United States and the United Kingdom. Dresden was different then Berlin or many of the other military targets which were attacked during World War II because it was never fortified or used for strategic purposes and, therefore, was not considered a military target. At one point, Billy watches a war movie about WWII. He watches it regularly, showing how reality is.

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