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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...
The setting of Slaughterhouse-Five is wide-ranging, but the two most important places are Germany during World War II and "Ilium," the fictional town in upstate New York where Billy Pilgrim lives m...
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...
Slaughterhouse-Five is not a pure autobiography because, while it does have elements of the author's life in it, most of the narrative is focused on a fictional character, Billy Pilgrim. At the sam...
As you'll know the second you look at a page of Slaughterhouse-Five, the book is broken into tiny, tiny sections. Most of these sections are pretty action-packed, so the narrator doesn't leave hims...
As we discuss in our "Tone" section, there aren't too many adjectives floating around Slaughterhouse-Five. The novel's writing is minimalist and dry, and Vonnegut tends to write in short, declarati...
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 makes"These four lines appear in one of the most famous Christmas carols ever, "Away in a Manger." (Listen to it here!)...
What's Up With the Ending?
One of Billy Pilgrim's big obsessions is this unchanging idea of time that he claims to get from the toilet plunger-shaped aliens of the planet of Tralfamadore. (Seriously.) According to the Tralfa...
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...
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 th...
Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Rebirth
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 Billy...
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 opto...
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...
The sex in Slaughterhouse-Five isn't very 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 in the l...
"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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