Slaughterhouse 5 essay

Submitted By Jade_Carney
Words: 736
Pages: 3

Satire is the use of wit to criticize behavior. From the surface, this technique appears humorous but it’s greater purpose is to inform the audience. Authors generally use satire as a tool to draw attention to both specific and broader issues in society. It effectively discloses these problems to the public. In the novel Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Vonnegut uses satire in many situations to expose the brutal truth and horrors of war. Vonnegut stresses the fact that death and war are inevitable. His goal throughout this novel is to have his readers be successful in accepting life on it’s own terms and recognizing the fact that the inevitable cannot be changed.

The Modest Proposal was written by Jonathan Swift in 1729 and is a prime example of how satire is able to reveal issues in society with a comedic feel. This famous pamphlet suggests the impoverished Irish may ease their economic pains by selling their children as food for the upper-classes. "I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children” (Swift). This satirical passage appears humorous upon first read given the absurd topic, but overall Swift uses satire to reveal the heartless attitudes towards the poor. Swift also exposes the issue of England’s mistreatment towards the Irish people in this era.

Slaughterhouse Five took a different path than the majority of fiction novels. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, was not the typical, well-liked protagonist and is a difficult character to have an emotional connection with. Pilgrim was never necessarily the hero, although he was subject to the sight of many brutal deaths and other horrors of war throughout the novel. One death particularly stood out in Billy’s mind due to its sheer absurdity. Vonnegut revealed this to the reader within the first paragraph which stresses its importance and impact on Billy. “One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his” (Vonnegut 1). This exposed Billy Pilgrim to a true atrocity of war: A man’s life taken, over something as simple as a teapot. This also is a touch a grim humor that Vonnegut adds to enhance his satire. Vonnegut wants the reader to realize the irony behind the man’s situation; He survived a horrific firebombing that wiped out the entire city of Dresden but is to be later killed over a small teapot. This use of satire opens the audience’s eyes to the greater issues of war and the number of deaths that are in vain.

Throughout this novel Vonnegut uses an anaphora with the phrase “so it goes”. While reading, one will begin to notice the phrase is used every…