Explanation using textual examples why Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, is an anti-war novel

Essay by tATibAbiHigh School, 12th gradeA+, November 2004

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In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut takes the chance to write about war from a disenchanted soldier's perspective and show his negative view of war. The novel essentially takes place during World War II, although it does skip around to other times during the main character's life. Vonnegut himself fought in World War II as a youth, and the war left him with lasting impressions. He wrote the novel during the Vietnam War, a controversial war in the US in which many young people had to fight. In his novel Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut effectively states and shows his anti-war stance in order to demonstrate what a truly horrific thing war is.

The first chapter, which is actually written from Vonnegut's perspective, holds many clues to the novel's intent. Mary O'Hare gets upset because she thinks that Vonnegut will write a war novel in which he is going to glorify himself and the other soldiers and show war as a heroic and marvelous thing.

She believes that books and movies which glorify war lead to more wars in which young people fight and die. Vonnegut assures her, however, that he will not show the war this way. He says that "[He will] call it 'The Children's Crusade'" because he and many others were too young for war; at the time the novel was being written many young people were fighting in Vietnam (15). The fact that the subtitle of the novel is "The Children's Crusade" also shows that this crusade, the war, was pitiable and sad; many people who were too young to die died as a result of the war, and did as the results of many other wars throughout history. Billy Pilgrim, the novel's main character, is therefore portrayed as a young, almost helpless soldier who "had no...