Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Essay by ieppyHigh School, 12th grade April 2003

download word file, 6 pages 3.7

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was born on the eleventh day of November 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the grandson of the first licensed architect in Indiana, and the son of a wealthy architect. The Great Depression, however, left Vonnegut's father out of work and the wealth of the family soon diminished. It was at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis that Vonnegut gained his first writing experience. During his last two years there he wrote for and was one of the editors of the Shortridge Daily Echo. After graduating from Shortridge in 1940, Vonnegut headed for Cornell University. His father wanted him to study something that was solid and dependable, like science, so Vonnegut began his college career as a chemistry and biology major. While Vonnegut struggled in his chemistry and biology studies, he excelled as a columnist and managing editor for the Cornell Daily Sun. But by 1943 Vonnegut was on the verge of being asked to leave Cornell due to his lackluster academic performance.

He beat Cornell to the punch by enlisting in the army. By this point Vonnegut's parents had given up on life, being unable to adjust to or accept the fact that they were no longer wealthy, world travelers. On May 14, 1944, his mother committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. His father was to remain a fairly isolated man the rest of his days, in full retreat from life, content to be in his own little world until his death on October 1, 1957. On December 14, 1944, Vonnegut became a German prisoner of war after being captured in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to Dresden, an open city that produced no war machinery; thus it was off-limits to allied bombing. He and his fellow POW's were to work in...