Explacation

Slaughterhouse Five- Rilee Racine & Grace Chilton

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Kurt Vonnegut begins his novel by setting the scene for his reflection on the bombing of Dresden with an intimacy of writing that strives to connect to his audience through reality and simplicity. He first explains the journey he took in writing this piece of literature by telling of his home in Cape Cod, where his planning and writing took place. Vonnegut is the narrator of the story of Billy Pilgrim, his central character who experiences the bombing and all that was encompassed in the tragedy of World War II, which was considerably one of the most horrific periods of time in history. The German dictator, Adolf Hitler, took it upon himself to attempt to rid the globe of every Jewish individual, for he believed only the Aryan race could rule. Hitler and his actions instigated a worldwide conflict that became World War II. Throughout the war, Dresden remained untouched until the bombing and presented itself as the cultural center of Germany. It is a mystery to many as to why the bombing took place when the war seemed to be close to resolution; regardless, the allies launched the fire bombing on Dresden on February 13, 1945, killing thousands of civilians and refugees. Similar to other authors of the Post-Modernism literary period, Vonnegut discusses these events, which he recalls in a very personal manner, to convey to his audience the horrific brutality that he witnessed in Dresden in order to enourage American citizens to understand war so that they may prevent it in the future.

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In the first chapter of Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, he introduces his journey of writing the anti-war story through a surrendered tone of nonchalance. The syntactical structure that Vonnegut uses is surprisingly simple and primarily perceived as blunt and careless. However, a deeper look into the text reveals that his use of asyndeton, polysyndeton, and parataxis culminates to create a raw complexity that gives voice to his feelings regarding the gruesome war that he was witness to. In arrangements such as "He is short and I am tall. We were Mutt and Jeff in the war. We were captured together in the war. I told him who I was on the telephone. He had no trouble believing it" (Vonnegut 4), he creates a crispness and frankness that guides the reader through his recollection and the actuality of his experiences. Vonnegut chooses his simple syntax in order to illustrate the harsh reality that is war while concluding with his acceptance of the fact that war, as well as death, are regrettably inevitable.

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Vonnegut begins his novel by introducing the plotline of the story. Through his encounter with an old war buddy's wife, Mary O'Hare, he explains that he is going to use his novel to de-glorify war fought by babies in hopes of preventing it. He intends to portay war in a way that reflects the tragedies that he experienced honestly and that attempts to convey the atrocity of combat. Vonnegut's main character in the novel will be Billy Pilgrim, a soldier in the war, and his story will take place in Dresden, Germany. He hopes to interpret the futility of not simply war, but a massacre. He claims "everyone is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre" (19), yet he takes it upon himself to put into words the horrific image that so many hide from. Vonnegut will display the brutality that goes along with war through Billy Pilgrim's journey in Dresden during World War II to reveal to the world the truth about what both soldiers and civilians suffer through in war.

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Vonnegut introduces several motifs in Chapter One that are to be used throughout the novel, including "so it goes" and time. "So it goes" is considerably the most prevalent motif in the text, always following the mention, literal and figurative, of death. The phrase aids to reveal Vonnegut's argument of the inevitability of death other horrible situations and the, therefore, uselessness of mourning for an extended period of time. Vonnegut's discussion of time in the first chapter serves to convey his acceptance of the chronology of life and events. "As an Earthling, I had to believe whatever clocks said- and calendars" (Vonnegut 20). He understands that the passage of time is unstoppable and irreversible, and through his statements about time, he strives to persuade his audience to adopt a similar view of the subject.