Explication of Chapter One
In Chapter One, Vonnegut composes a nostalgic yet melancholy record of an influential moment in his planning of this novel. The use of apathetic paratactical syntax defines his style to be similar to the diction of a wise elder bursting with counsel to share. Because parataxis gives everything equal value and importance, nothing that the audience reads of seems important to Vonnegut, which causes him to appear indifferent. We are introduced to O’Hare (Vonnegut’s friend from the war) and his wife during this chapter; they were instrumental in the planning of the book. Vonnegut’s controlling argument is drawn from O’Hare’s wife’s criticism that he was only a baby when the war was fought. He debates that those who participate directly in war are negatively affected to the point where they are robbed of gradually maturing into adulthood. The men arrive as babies and leave a short time later as scarred old men. In Vonnegut’s case, he was changed to have trouble truly caring about anything, as shown in his abundant use of parataxis.