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Postmodernism in Slaughterhouse-Five

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terry park

on 24 March 2014

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Transcript of Postmodernism in Slaughterhouse-Five

Metafiction: given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.
Vonnegut in Dresden
Illustrations in the novel
The first chapter of the book
Non-linear timeline: Disruptive/disjointed narrative
Jumping back and forth from memory to memory
Consumerism: the belief that it is good for people to spend a lot of money on goods and services
CH 2: "Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops."
Paranoia: the belief that there's an ordering system behind the chaos of the world
The Tralfamadorians
Maximalism/chaos: style of writing that refers to the encompassing of many different literary techniques and genres in a single novel (think of James Joyce/Ulysses!)
complex structure created by colloquial/simple narrative
extremely dense (whole lifetime of Billy)
Postmodernism & Slaughterhouse-Five
"So it goes." - Billy says this after every death
Example of black humor.Takes death lightly as if it's not that big of a deal. Life goes on.
Ch 2: Billy's father dies. "His father died in a hunting accident during the war. So it goes."
There is no emotion in this sentence and has no following explanation. The book then continues to talk about the rest of Billy's life.
Ch 4:"Roland Weary died-- of gangrene that had started in his mangled feet. So it goes."
Again, there is no emotion following even with Weary.
Death continued...
Ch 2: Tralfamadore's view of death. The narrator explains the phrase, "So it goes." It is the Tralfamadorian response to death. On Tralfamadore, people only appear to die. They know, though that he is still alive in the past.
This has a big influence on why Billy says so it goes after every death, this is now Billy's own belief.
Dark humor of death in Slaughterhouse Five is prevalent throughout the novel in the phrase "So it goes".
The repetition of "so it goes" in the novel has the purpose of building meaning of the phrase for the reader.
When you read about so many deaths meaning so little it causes confusion and makes readers worried about Billy in why he doesn't take death in a harsh way.
Vonnegut's purpose was to also make readers take a closer look at the deaths throughout the novel and associates death with the Tralfamdorian view of death.
The repetition of "So it goes" also has the purpose that not one person is of more worth than the other.
Ch 10: Vonnegut reinforces this in the opening of the last chapter when he lists the death of Robert Kennedy, an ordinary man who lived by him in the summer, Martin Luther King, the thousands of people killed in Vietnam and again mentions the death of his father.
The point of this was to leave readers with the final thought that the Tralfamadorian view of death in "so it goes" is that everyone is equal
Really not one person is better than the other because we will all end up dieing anyways
"... there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre... And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like 'Poo-tee-weet?'" (Vonnegut 13).
Vonnegut shows the reality of war
no glamor
no hero, no enemy
"Children's Crusade"
The futility of writing about war
anti-glacier book
Heavy use of situational irony
Edgar Derby, the Hobo, & "Wild Bob"
Meat Locker
The British POWs
Robert Pilgrim and the Green Berets
Vonnegut's criticism of humanity is done through the use of black humor
Kilgore Trout
Uses humor and science fiction to introduce controversial and serious topics such as death, war, religion, and how the universe will end.
Using black humor allows Vonnegut to delve into these topics and have the reader keep an open mind
This is because they initially take his commentary at face value instead of immediately applying it to their own individual set of beliefs, morals, and perception of the world
Postmodernism is....
a literary movement starting in the 1950's
It looks like....
Postmodernism is a big umbrella term that clumped many new styles of fiction writing together
the blending of many genres, especially high brow and low brow writing
influenced by the genocide of WWII, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Cold War tension, counterculture - basically aware of global affairs and socioeconomic/political issues
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