Chapter One Explication
Throughout the first chapter of Slaughterhouse- Five, Kurt Vonnegut narrates both the mental processes he used and the physical experiences he endured in order to write his “famous book about Dresden” (Vonnegut 23). The majority of the first chapter takes place in Dresden, Germany; however, throughout the chapter, Vonnegut switches time periods to when he is writing the novel (a twenty- three year period) and once he has finished writing the novel. Slaughterhouse-Five was a piece of historical fiction written during the Post- Modernism time period. This was the time after World War Two when Americans had great pride in their country and knew they were in the strongest country on Earth. One is able to tell that the book was written during this time period because it was after the bombing of Dresden, which occurred in World War Two; people were also protesting war efforts, which is another major topic Slaughterhouse - Five hits. While in Dresden, Vonnegut sees his life flash before his eyes, and he uses the first chapter to show the reader how those traumatic experiences are still impacting his life. Vonnegut begins by sharing his story of being held prisoner in Dresden during and after the bombing and also the mental blocks and processes, the resources, and the struggles that were involved in writing his novel. Even after reaching out to his old friend from the war, Bernard V. O’Hare, Vonnegut is still struggling to find the strength to accept the bombing and the lives lost in the bombing and the lack of attention given to the disaster. “That was about it for the memories…” (17).Vonnegut had trouble recalling memories because he was trapped in a slaughterhouse; he was underground, in the dark, without knowing when the debris would clear when it would be safe to walk around the city of Dresden. Many people are not aware of the bombing of Dresden and they especially are not aware that it was as severe as the catastrophic bombing of Hiroshima in Japan. Kurt Vonnegut uses a first person point of view throughout the first chapter so that the reader can be informed of what happened during the bombing in a way that is not sugar-coated and reveals the truths, hardships, and pain and struggles that the bombing caused. Due to his stylistic decision to break away from his usual disconnected narrator, readers easily infer that Kurt Vonnegut yearned to open the eyes of readers to the accurate and precise details of a terrible “Children’s Crusade”, a terrible world war, and a terrible hatred that fills the hearts of millions.
In the first chapter of his book, Slaughterhouse-Five, the author, Kurt Vonnegut, introduces the idea and purpose of the book. By explaining a brief abbreviated version of his book writing journey, Vonnegut allows the reader to go on the journey with him from start to finish. The writer familiarizes his audience with his argument, and what to expect throughout this “famous book about Dresden,” (Vonnegut 23). Vonnegut writes with a detached and almost opinionated tone when describing his argument to his audience. The author makes it clear early on that he is opposed to the idea of war. He believes that wars can be easily stopped. Vonnegut considers Slaughterhouse-Five to be an anti-war book. Another main point that the author argues and introduces in the first chapter is the usage of children in wars, and how wrong and awful that concept is. Due to the fact that Vonnegut speaks in a blunt, straight-forward tone and applies numerous paratactic and hypotatic sentences, readers infer that he will strongly argue for not only the abolishment of wars but the abolishment of thrusting innocent children into the destruction of wars.