Slaughterhouse Five

Explication of chapter one and the events that happened

Summary of Chapter One

In the novel, Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut writes the setting to be in Dredsen, 1967 . The historical context refers to the second World War and the destruction of Dredsen. He uses his own voice for the narration of chapter one, but then to pertain to the importance and destructions of the war, he switches to third person point-of-view to show the truth of the experiences. He uses his voice in the first chapter to enhance how he is dealing with the emotional tragedy of the war based on the pain he endures. Vonnegut writes with a polysyndeton structure in order to demonstrate the pain he encounters thoughout his life in Dredsen, "As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialouge and suspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dredsen story many times" (5). He uses the repetition of the conjunction "and" to describe his main goal of chapter one, which is to prepare us for the experiences we will read. He also writes with an asyndeton structure in order to say an enormous amount of information in such few words, "I was a family man. I'd been married only once. I wasn't a drunk. I hadn't done her husband any dirt in the war" (13). In this quote, Vonnegut uses simple sentences to describe something smaller with a bigger underlining meaning.

Analysis of the Rhetorical Elements and Tone

Vonnegut uses satire to portray the topic of war by using dark humor, repetition, figurative language, and different sentence structures like parataxis and cumulative sentences in order to enhance details and events throughout the novel. During this novel, Vonnegut uses humor to describe cruicial events in order to ease the sensible morality of pain and the endurance death, to set the tone. He provides a blunt and detatched tone towards the bombing of Dredsen which interprets his distinct unforgettable memories and adventures during that time period. Vonnegut argues that even though a person can go through an experience as traumatic as war, they still need to cope with this reality and recover to move on from the changes that are being made in order to continue on with a normal life. Even though he states that these horrific tragadies caused him not to be able to continue on with his book, many years later Vonnegut realizes the importance of coping with his experiences by revealing the details and emotions he interpreted from Dredsen.

Prediction of What is Next

Vonnegut introduces his experience of the destruction in Dresden while he was a prisoner of war. When he was released from being captured, he tries to find the exact words to describe his traumatic experience during this time, but the words almost never came until many years later. Throughout chapter one, Vonnegut uses repetition, certain motifs, parrallel structures and figurative language in order to help us have a better understanding of what is to come, "People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore. I've finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun. This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt" (22). Vonnegut is saying that this novel is going to have tragedy and painful moments due to the fact that he states "the next [book] I write is going to be fun". He clearly states that this novel isn't going to be filled with cheerful and happy events, only traumatic events. Vonnegut tells us that war is not a joyful time and everyone has to experience the change from such event and everyone must learn how to adapt and move on from the changes that are made. He claims that even though his novel has imperfections, the truth is still told to an extent with a bit of information that is still confined and hidden.

Use of Motifs

In chapter one, Vonnegut introduces us to various motifs that have very powerful insight. One of the most frequently reoccurring motifs is "so it goes". This motif references to darkness and every painful emotion induced by death. When this is mentioned, the feeling is almost apathetic. However, in reality, death is painful for others; therefore, causing us to mourn. Vonnegut says "So it goes" in a sense as to nothing has changed, death is almost normal due to the often occurrence. The rhetorical value of this particular motif is to show the readers death is normal during wartime, and people around Vonnegut, as well as himself, must accept it and move on. He also introduces "Poo-tee-weet" which is his way of telling his story during the war. After the war is finished, he tries to explain his experiences throughtout this war, but the words are trapped into his mind unable to escape into verbal form. He uses "Poo-tee-weet" to help tell his story, "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. It ends like this: Poo-tee-weet" (22). This quote represents the beginning and end of the novel, like Vonnegut tells us it is impossible to describe war in a form to which we can understand. The rhetorical value of "Poo-tee-weet" is what war is portraying to be, but will still be a misread and we cannot predict how the novel is going to go based on the unjustification of this motif.