Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

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5 Responses to “Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut”

  1. Jonah D. Says:

    Summary- Slaughter House 5, written by Kurt Vonnegut, is a novel that loosely follows the real life events that occurred and affected a scrawny teenager named Billy Pilgrim who was drafted into WWII. Billy Pilgrim is constantly ill-prepared for life in general, and being a part of the Army, he constantly lacks the needed skill and brain power to excel, but somehow he survives. Moments after he is deployed into warfare, he is captured by Nazi German soldiers, and locked up as a prisoner of war. During Billy Pilgrim’s experiences in battle, he is convinced that he traveled through time, and saw his entire life from beginning to end. During his time as a prisoner of war, other prisoners treat him with respect, and plan how they will survive. However shortly after they scheme plans to escape, bombs are dropped on their location killing 130,000 soldiers, POW’s, and innocent bystanders, Billy Pilgrim, alongside his fellow prisoners survive in an airtight meat locker. After the bombing they are rescued, and this concluded Billy Pilgrim’s time in the Army. As an Army veteran, Billy Pilgrim constantly experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, and high levels of depression. Billy Pilgrim socially succeeds in life after the war with a high income, a solid marriage, however his mental problems lead him to believe, that he is captured by aliens called Tralfamadorians. Billy goes in and out of what is real in life, and predicts his own death, shortly after he is forced to visit psych wards for his mental problems. Billy waits for death, because he feels life has little meaning.

    RATING- 1 star

    Response- My personal response to this book was that I thought it lacked organization in almost all of the text, and I believe that basing a book entirely off of a mentally disoriented Army solider makes for a confusing, and poorly written book. Overall, I think this is one of the worst books I have read, and I would not ever recommend this book to someone else.

    Recommendations: The Giver, Siddhartha, and Into thin Air

  2. Ben D. Says:

    Overview: Vonnegut’s book “Slaughterhouse-Five” revolves around the main protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, a man who takes part in World War II and is present at the bombing of Dresden in 1945. The book involves Billy recalling his memories and reciting them to the reader, talking of how he visited old friends from the war to get their accounts of the Dresden Bombing. The story goes on a strange tangent after this point. Pilgrim almost becomes obsessed with recounting what happened in February, 1945. The rest of the book involves Aliens.

    “Slaughterhouse-Five” is not an easy to read book. The book drags on in a single area for far too long. The characters are not given a large or varied personality, and the story only slightly static. However, Vonnegut does do a good job of describing what it must have been like to be in the concentration camp at the time of the Dresden Bombing. He adds small details like recalling a memory of an American soldier being shot for taking a teapot from a ruined house after the bombing. But the addition of the Aliens to the book took its edge away.

  3. Martin S. Says:

    Summary: The protagonist of Slaughterhouse V is a time traveling soldier from World War II who is captured by Germans and put in a makeshift prison that used to be a slaughterhouse, slaughterhouse five, to be exact. After the war, the time traveling soldier is abducted by aliens called Tralfamadorians, who apparently can see everything that happened, will happen, and is happening in time. At the end, our time traveling World War II soldier protagonist is killed via laser gun assassination at a speech he gives about flying saucers as revenge for something he didn’t do. I wish I was making this up.

    Evaluation: This book was somewhat preceded by its reputation as a classic, and, honestly, it does not live up to that reputation. I had heard that this book had been banned in certain countries and it made me curious as to why, what was contained in the pages of Slaughterhouse V that was so radical that it had to be banned. Well, it turned out that the book was banned because it was too boring to be considered entertainment. You might think that with the aliens, and time travel, and World War II setting, there’s no way this book couldn’t be exciting. Well, I now hold the firm belief that Slaughterhouse V was written by Kurt Vonnegut in order to show that even time traveling aliens can be boring. Not only that, but the book contains no radical ideas, no new thinking, no nothing that it could be banned for. Not even in the 1950s when it was written. Basically, it’s boring, don’t read it. Go read a cereal box instead.

    Rating: I wish I could give it zero stars.

    Recommendations: Go read something interesting like Foundation, or Of Mice and Men, if you’re looking for a classic.

  4. Devin V. Says:

    It is difficult to write a summary for Slaughterhouse Five, as the book eschews traditional structure, and has almost no resemblance to the traditional ‘set up, conflict, rising action, climax’ structure that most books follow. Furthermore, the book barely has a beginning, middle, and end. The book follows, for the most part, the life of an average American named Billy Pilgrim. Billy was drafted into WWII at a young age, and was subject to several historical events, most notably the bombing of Dresden. After the war, Billy becomes a wealthy doctor, and starts a life in small town Illium, the setting of several of Vonnegut’s stories. After a near fatal plane crash, Billy apparently loses his mind, insisting that he’d been abducted by aliens many years before, and kept on a zoo on their home planet. Through the aliens, Billy became ‘unstuck in time,’ traveling to different parts of his life at random, never knowing where he’ll end up. The book does not have a set conflict or climax, and much of it is anecdotes and dry descriptions of wherever and whenever Billy is in that scene. If the 10 chapters were cut up and put back together in random order, the book could mostly be read and understood just the same.

    Review:
    Kurt Vonnegut has an incredibly distinctive style that shines through in all his writings, but especially this one. His descriptions are often long and dry. This sounds like a knock on the book, but it isn’t. Yes, his style certainly isn’t for everybody. Many will find the endless seemingly irrelevant anecdotes boring, but I find them fascinating. Due to the short length of the book and the relative lack of actual action, the book can be read very quickly, but you’ll want some time to really absorb it all. Like in Vonnegut’s other works, there are many completely nonsensical elements to the book, like the little green aliens that see with their hands. But these things are written in such a mundane fashion that they hardly seem out of the ordinary. This book features time travel and aliens, but never feels like science fiction. The nonsense bits never seem hard to swallow, which is a testament to Vonnegut’s ability as a writer. He inserts his viewpoints and philosophies on the main themes of the novel (fate, free will, war, human life), but never comes of as overbearing or preachy. The book almost reads as a diary, with dozens of characters that never get expanded on, random anecdotes on things that have little to do with the ‘plot,’ short sentences, and comparatively little dialogue. As I’ve said before, this style is certainly not recommended for everybody, but I personally loved this book, like I do all of Vonnegut’s work.

  5. Azevedo Says:

    Amazing book! Read 4 or 5 of his books after this one.

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