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Josh Krafsur

on 19 December 2016

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Transcript of Slaughterhouse-Five

Thesis Statement
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five fits in with the literary movement of post-modernism in the sense that Vonnegut thinks about World War and conflict in an abstract way, and he is very anti-war. His first-hand experience in the second world war shapes his beliefs that he expresses throughout the book, most of which are dark, depressing, and straightforward.
Post-Modernism is simply an idea or belief that goes against what may be the norm in society. Post-Modernism gained a lot of popularity after WWII, when people began challenging common beliefs and topics. This is exactly the case in Slaughterhouse Five, as Vonnegut challenges the entire point of wars.
Vonnegut is essentially saying that war is bad, regardless of the way it is fought. He thinks it's ironic that some claim some forms of warfare are any better than others.
Example 1:
“The advocates of nuclear disarmament seem to believe that, if they could achieve their aim, war would become tolerable and decent. They would do well to read this book and ponder the fate of Dresden, where 135,000 people died as a result of an air attack with conventional weapons. On the night of March 9th, 1945, an air attack on Tokyo by American heavy bombers, using incendiary and high explosive bombs, caused the death of 83, 793 people. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 71,379 people” (Vonnegut 188).
By Josh Krafsur

Example 2:
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves.... It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters” (Vonnegut 113).
Vonnegut is claiming that poor
American citizens degrade them-
selves, and glorify those above
them. This is very post-modernist
because he's criticizing the nation
as a whole for what he believes
is absurd.
Example 3:
“He was down in the meat locker on the night that Dresden was destroyed. There were sounds like giant footsteps above. Those were sticks of high-explosive bombs. The giants walked and walked. The meat locker was a very safe shelter. All that happened down there was an occasional shower of calcimine. The Americans and four of their guards and a few dressed carcasses were down there, and nobody else. The rest of the guards had, before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were all being killed with their families. So it goes” (Vonnegut 177).
In this passage, Vonnegut
is describing the carnage he witnessed in Dresden. He was one of the lucky survivors, but this event was likely the biggest reason for his negative beliefs about war, and even a loss of faith in humanity.
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five fits into the literary movement of post-modernism because of his post-war beliefs that criticize wars, the countries/people that start wars, and even the soldiers who he believes are brain-washed into fighting for "the greater good." He was once one of these soldiers, and now he looks back on it with both remorse and disgust. He isn't afraid to criticize his own country for their involvement in the war, as he also does many times throughout the book. WWII had a large impact on Vonnegut's life after the war, which influenced him to write this book from a post-modernist perspective.
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