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Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five

  

by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five Analysis

Literary Devices in Slaughterhouse-Five

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

After the bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim and several POWs return to the slaughterhouse to pick up souvenirs. Billy does not actually spend much time looking for things; he simply sits in a green...

Setting

The setting of Slaughterhouse-Five is wide-ranging—this is a book that includes an alien abduction, remember?—but the two most important places are Germany during World War II and "Ilium," the...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator is definitely a character in this novel: we get first-person sections in both the first and last chapters, and he pops up periodically throughout Billy's travels through Germany. The n...

Genre

We could also say "one of the weirdest books we've ever cracked," but that's not a exactly a formal genre. (It is, however, a true statement.)So let's break down this genre business in a straightfo...

Tone

As you'll know the second you look at a page of Slaughterhouse-Five, the book is broken into tiny, teensy sections. Most of these sections are pretty action-packed, so the narrator doesn't leave hi...

Writing Style

Slaughterhouse-Five is written in the stylistic equivalent of a November landscape. If you're looking for flowery, check out some Byron. If you're looking for wartime realness, however, look no fur...

What's Up With the Title?

Though you know this book as Slaughterhouse-Five, the full title is actually Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death. When main character Billy Pilgrim winds up in D...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

The cattle are lowing,The Baby awakes.But the little Lord JesusNo crying He makesThese four lines appear in one of the most famous Christmas carols ever, "Away in a Manger." Although we could specu...

What's Up With the Ending?

One of Billy Pilgrim's big obsessions is this flat circle-y idea of time that he claims to get from the toilet plunger-shaped aliens of the planet of Tralfamadore. (Seriously.) According to the Tra...

Tough-o-Meter

The language of Slaughterhouse-Five is straightforward, so it's easy to understand what's happening in each of the sections. But with all the time jumping, alien abduction, and heavy-duty philosoph...

Plot Analysis

We are faced with the problem that the whole plot of Slaughterhouse-Five goes out of order, so we get the "Complication Stage" of the plot—the firebombing of Dresden—after we see the effects...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Billy Pilgrim gets drafted to join the American army during World War II. He is sent to Europe, where the Germans capture him.There is never a very strong sense that things are going well for Bil...

Three Act Plot Analysis

For all of its circular logic and experimental writing, the set-up for Slaughterhouse-Five is actually quite simple: Billy Pilgrim, a young guy from upstate New York attending night classes in op...

Trivia

In addition to his work in anthropology at the University of Chicago, Vonnegut also studied chemistry pretty extensively (source). In fact, he also felt very strongly that, "Literature should not d...

Steaminess Rating

The sex in Slaughterhouse-Five isn't very, well, sexy. We know that people are having it, but it is never described very intensely. Still, there is a fair amount. Billy Pilgrim cheats on his wife i...

Allusions

"Eheu, fugaces laburuntur anni," Latin quote from Horace: "Alas, our fleeting years pass away" (1.9.1)Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay (1.12.1)Dresden, Hist...

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