Time Obsessed Him
"As an earthing I had to believe whatever clocks said.."
Kurt Vonnegut incorporates chapter one of his novel, Slaughterhouse 5, to assure the audience of the reality, “more or less”, of the events he describes. Unlike the rest of his novel, in the first chapter Vonnegut speaks from his personal perspective. Interestingly enough, he utilizes chapter one to serve as a preface to his remaining ideas for the rest of the novel. Vonnegut immediately slides into the reality of people getting killed in Dresden Germany during World War II. Vonnegut, along with “an old war buddy”, Bernard V. O’Hare, return to Dresden (post war) to the slaughterhouse which they were held prisoners in. He explains his attempts at writing his instances from the war many times. The audience becomes familiar with Vonnegut’s postwar life as he speaks of his studies as an anthropology student at the University of Chicago. Ultimately, Vonnegut discusses the cyclical nature of life and time alike. Chapter one of Slaughterhouse 5 and Postmodernism are directly related proven by the exploration of reality and truth, the criteria of time, and frame-breaking. Vonnegut’s style is dressed with dry, declarative sentences. His minimalistic tendencies may possibly be favored for the hope of a greater sense of realism.
In the opening chapter of his novel Kurt Vonnegut establishes a tone of melancholy hollowness. This tone allows the audience to better understand Vonnegut’s perspective on war and death. By utilizing this tone to develop his argument, the reader can begin to understand that Vonnegut is not merely developing an anti-war argument for this novel, but that he is exploring the deeper, more troubling aspects of the cruel nature of humanity. The tone develops in the audience an understanding that while the author is horrified by the senselessness of death he has come to realize that it is just another part of life. An underlying argument that is created throughout the novel is the inner struggle that comes from focusing on past experiences and the feelings that are rehashed from looking back on our lives. Vonnegut plays with paratactical structures such as poly and antesyndeton. These short and direct sentences mirror that of the harsh, matter of fact way of war. Vonnegut neglects to use long, flowery, beautiful, sentences that would imply that war is something glamorous and fun.