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Slaughterhouse Five Historical Context

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David Mintz

on 14 September 2012

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Transcript of Slaughterhouse Five Historical Context

Slaughterhouse Five
Historical Context Historical Context:World War II

-a major setting of the novel (novel takes place in numerous time periods)

-ending days of WWII, after the Battle of the Bugle 1944-1945 Significant Historical Event: Bombing of Dresden

- February 13, 1945 allied planes firebombed the city of Dresden

- most destructive bombing of the war, the entire city was destroyed and over 135,000 people were killed cite, author

- although violent and destructive, the raid actually accomplished nothing

-German’s were already on the verge of surrender

- Dresden did not create any war materials Vonnegut's Negative Perception of the War

- Slaughterhouse Five is regarded as one of the greatest anti –war novels

-At one point, Vonnegut narrates, "They crawled into a forest like the big, unlucky mammals they were" (29) showing that the war has changed Billy and his fellow soldiers for the worst.

- When referring to Dresden Vonnegut bluntly mentions, "There must be tons of human bone meal in the ground" (1) showing the brutality and loss of war.

-the novel particularly highlights the uselessness of Dresden and how it is an apt but depressing symbol of war Biographical Context: Kurt Vonnegut

-Vonnegut was raised with values of atheism and pacifism which can be seen through analysis of his text

-Vonnegut served as a soldier in World War II, giving him many firsthand traumatic experiences of war

-Vonnegut witnessed numerous men die, the bombing of Dresden and experienced life as an American POW

-A particularly gruesome experience was burying the dead corpses, after the bombing of Dresden Impact of Kurt Vonnegut

-Vonnegut’s life experiences give the novel an especially dark and realistic feel

-numerous quotes reflect the sadness and destruction of a war he experienced

-At one point Vonnegut states, “The irony is so great. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands of people are killed. And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot. And he's given a regular trial, and then he's shot by a firing squad"( 6) this specific facet of the bombing gives much insight into the specific horrors of war.

-overall this greatly increases the power of the novel as a pacifist tool Cultural Context: Vietnam War

- the novel was published in 1969

- the Vietnam War began in 1959 and did not end until 1975

- during the war about 58,000 Americans died and thousands more were injured

- 75,000 of those wounded became severely disabled after the war

- the Vietnam War was fought to prevent the North Vietnamese from unifying Vietnam as a communist country

- the war has been regarded as a strategic and public failure for the U.S. Opposition to the War and Counter Culture Movement

- by 1969 much of the country, especially younger people, disagreed with continuing the Vietnam War

- by October the Gallup Survey reported that 58% of people asked, did not believe the US should have entered the war (Carroll, 2004)

- protests at universities and political places were extremely common

- Most famously the Kent State shootings in 1970 during which national guard members shot at student protesters killing 4 (Rosenberg) We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
- --Lyndon Johnson, Oct. 1964 Assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr.

-American society, in this time, was also shocked by the deaths of two famous and influential leaders of peace

- John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963

- Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968

-these two leaders were symbols of the betterment of society The Vietnam War Era and the Novel

-the novel is at times dreary and extremely depressing which mimics America in these days, greatly upset over Vietnam and assassinations

-the book is also satirical to some issues relevant at the time, such as death

- when death is mentioned in the novel, it is always followed by an uncaring “as it goes”,
this is meant to satire societies numbness over the violence in Vietnam

-Vonnegut continues this trend when he states “And even if the wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death," (4) this shows the depressed pessimistic state of America at this time.

-the novel was partly written in reaction to the Vietnam War and is a great anti-war book David Mintz World War II: Influence on Character

-main character, Billy Pilgrim, has been caught by the Germans and is a prisoner of war

-Pilgrim and other American POWs are being held in the town of Dresden Kurt Vonnegut." 2012. Biography.com 10 Sep 2012, 06:51 http://www.biography.com/people/kurt-vonnegut-9520329 "Vietnam War Statistics." Mobile Riverence Force. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012.
<http://www.mrfa.org/vnstats.htm>. Rosenberg. "Kent State Shootings." About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012.
<http://history1900s.about.com/od/1970s/qt/kentstate.htm>. Gallup. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/11998/
iraqvietnam-comparison.aspx>. Reasons for Discontent

-the counter culture movement caused young
people to largely disagree with their parents and society

-belief that America should have never gotten involved in the war

-thought that the South Vietnam government was corrupt

-the draft and brutal conditions faced by such young men

-US invasion and bombing of Cambodia

-it was largely believed the war was unwinnable About.com 20th Century History. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. "JFK Shot." BBC on this Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. Kasparek, John. "Vietnam and Opposition at Home." Wisconsin Historical Society.
N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Anti War Vietnam.” American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Bombing of Dresden.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Bombing of Dresden.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Execution by Firing Squad.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “John F. Kennedy.” Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Kent State Shootings.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Kurt Vonnegut.” Nnbd. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Lyndon B. Johnson.” Conservapedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Martin Luther King Jr.” Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Prisoners of War.” Digplanet. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Prisoners of War.” Digplanet. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “So it Goes.” Slaughterhouse Five. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Spitfire.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Vietnam War.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Vietnam War.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “Vietnam War.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “World War 2 Bombers.” Wallpaper Vortex. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. “SlaughterHouse Five.” Nicktranenglish1102. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. Works Cited
About.com 20th Century History. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Anti War Vietnam.” American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Bombing of Dresden.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
Bombing of Dresden. youtube. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Execution by Firing Squad.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Firebombing of Dresden.” History.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/firebombing-of-dresden>.
Gallup. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/ >.
“JFK Shot.” BBC on this Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“John F. Kennedy.” Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
Kasparek, John. “Vietnam and Opposition at Home.” Wisconsin Historical Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Kent State Shootings.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Kurt Vonnegut.” Nnbd. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Lyndon B. Johnson.” Conservapedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Martin Luther King Jr.” Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Overview of World War II.” About.com History. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://americanhistory.about.com.htm>.
“Prisoners of War.” Digplanet. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
Rosenberg. “Kent State Shootings.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. <http://history1900s.about.com >.
“SlaughterHouse Five.” Nicktranenglish1102. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“So it Goes.” Slaughterhouse Five. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Spitfire.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Vietnam War.” About.com 20th Century History. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://history1900s.about.com/od/vietnamwar/ >.
“Vietnam War.” Britanica. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“The Vietnam War.” English Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
Vietnam War. youtube. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
“Vietnam War Statistics.” Mobile Riverence Force. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.mrfa.org/vnstats.htm>.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five. N.p.: Dial, 1969. Print.
“World War 2 Bombers.” Wallpaper Vortex. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012
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