Slaughterhouse-Five, a Novel by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse » Five. by Kurt Vonnegut, is a novel about the senselessness of war, told through the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim. Slaughterhouse, Five is a satire, which is a work that makes fun of something serious. In this case it is war the plot of this novel is very scattered, and skips around a great deal. It goes from Billys experience of World war II as a soldier and POW, to Tralfamadore, the alien planet to which Billy was abducted, to the present day where Billy is a successful optometrist.

as well as a husband and father. Throughout the novel, Vonnegut uses various forms of humor such as sarcasm, exaggeration, and irony to get across one main point: war is senseless. In every section of the novel that is about World War II, there is satire there to set the mood. One example of satirizing events experienced in WWII was after Billy was captured by the Germans, He was thrown on a boxcar of a train and all the Americans captured were given a coat to wear.

Everyone elses coat was from a dead soldier with brass buttons, numbers and stars. Brllys was the only one from a civilian. not only a civilian but awoman. The coat that Billy Pilgrim got had been crumpled and frozen in such a way, and was so small, that it appeared to be not a coat but a sort of large black, three-cornered hat. There were gummy stains on it, too. like crankcase drainings or old strawberry lam.

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There seemed to be a dead, furry animal frozen to it. The animal was infact the coats fur collar. Another example of satire in WWII is when Billy and the other American prisoners are to stay in empty slaughterhouses. Billy and Edgar Derby. a 44 year old American private were going to the communal kitchen for supper the first night they arrived at their slaughterhouse. Billy. now in his 20s and Edgar in his 40s were guarded by a tall, scrawny 16 year old German boy named Werner Gluck on the way to the kitchen.

He was armed With an extremely heavy musket which was bigger than he, and a bayonet, which was clean. Vonnegut was making fun of this situation and its ironic because there were these two strong men being told what to do by this weak 16 year old German boy. Glucks clean bayonet shows his Inexperience in the war, which is satirized because the strong American soldiers obeyed and listened to him when one would think that they would over power him. Vonnegut uses satire when talking about almost all of the people Billy encounters in the war, Roland Weary was one of the soldiers wandering the European wilderness with Billy. When Weary wasnt saving Billys life. he was telling him of his bizarre collection and knowledge of torture Instruments. Even though Billy was going insane during this time, he was sane enough to think so lowly of Roland Weary and know to talk to him as little as possible.

This was Vonneguts way of satirizing Weary and his relationship with Billy, Vonnegut did this because the things Weary was talking about seemed crazy and senseless to Billy, and that is exactly what war was. Another person from the war Vonnegut satirizes is Howard W. Cambell, the American turned Nazr who comes to Visit the America soldiers at the slaughterhouse to try to recruit them in to joining the Free American Corps. The way Vonnegut makes fun of him is in the way he is dressed. He wore a white ten-gallon hat and black cowboy boots decorated with swastikas and stars. He was sheathed in a blue body stocking which had yellow stripes running up from his armpits to his ankles.

His shoulder patch was a silhouette of Abraham Lincolns profile on afield of pale green.  He had abroad arm-band which was red, with a blue swastika in a circle of white. Cambell was supposed to come off professional but his outfit was so outrageous that no one could take him seriously. Vonnegut wanted to portray this for mainly the same reasons of Roland Weary. Cambell was very serious about his proposal, but his clothes turned him in to something not understandable and crazy, as war is. There are many themes to this novel and in every one of them satire is present, a not-as-obvious theme for Slaughterhouse-Five is the fact that we. people, are bugs trapped in amber.

As said by the Tralfamadorians to Billy when he was first abducted Vonnegut wanted people to realize that we mankind, are stuck on this earth no matter what, and many crazy, senseless things can, will, and have already happened but theres nothing anyone can really do about them after the fact, except for make fun of it Vonnegut’s main point was war and the tragedy and senselessness of it, and that Is what he made fun of, but he was also satirizing life in general. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, is a satire about war and life, Making fun of the different events in the character Billy Pilgrim 5 life and the people he met along the way. Vonnegut made the book confusing and senseless, which not only war is but life as well.

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Slaughterhouse-Five, a Novel by Kurt Vonnegut. (2023, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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