Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Essay by crazygeronamoHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2008

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The firebombing of Dresden Germany was an event that left nearly one hundred and forty-thousand innocent civilians dead in a city that was not heavily controlled by the Nazi's. This horrific bombing is the core of Kurt Vonnegut's science-fiction novel Slaughter-House Five, which tells its readers about the illusion of free will as well as the catastrophic effects of war, while using unrealistic and genuine happenings to explain the story.

The story tells of a young boy, Billy Pilgrim, who was involved in World War II. He has become unstuck in time and travels back and forth between moments of his life as well as a planet 4 quadrillion miles from earth called Tralfamadore. In his time travels he sees the past as well as the future. He sees his future children, his future wife, and even his inevitable death at the hands of a hired gun. This style of writing does not leave much suspense to mull over, but the omniscient narrator does give insightful add-ons as to what will happen.

All these elements incorporated with the themes and exceptional use of creative writing make for a truly memorable novel.

The illusion of free will as well as the catastrophic effects of war plays an essential role in the foundation of this novel. Free will, according to the Tralfamadorians is a concept that is only seen on earth. These strange creatures have extrasensory perception which allows them to see in more than three dimensions. They believe that in a different dimension, all moments in time have already occurred and are playing over and over again simultaneously. The people Tralfamadore say that nothing can be done to stop this and that it is best for one to accept his fate. This is evident in the fact that...