Essay about Slaugtherhouse Five ENGL 1302 Rhetorical Analysis

Submitted By Jay-Dominguez
Words: 1295
Pages: 6

Slaughterhouse Five Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been remembered in human history as the pinnacle of devastation as a result of the United States dropping the nuclear bombs. The devastation alone is said to be the most unethical and single most interesting decision to have been taken. But history tends to brush over other important details as well. The bombing of the German city, Dresden, is said to have been worse than the previously mentioned events. The constant bombardment of an innocent city has even given rise to moral questions as to why it was bombarded. Kurt Vonnegut was a private in the U.S. Army and had experienced the raid of Dresden himself as a POW in the city. Years later he would attempt to write a linear account of this historical overlooked event. Kurt Vonnegut’s rhetorical devices are used to represent more in depth ideas than he possibly could have if Slaughterhouse five were written in an orthodox linear manner. Vonnegut’s experience from World War II has created an interesting lapse of time in which he is unable to write about this experience in a certain fashion. After twenty years, Vonnegut is finally able to write about his experiences through a creation of his own named Billy Pilgrim. Through his creation he began to express the war in a completely different lens. Using time travel, aliens and a non-linear structure, Vonnegut builds on top of these concepts which create entire ideals in which death, free will and war are only a state of being in a moment, non-existent and inevitable, respectively. Slaughterhouse Five contains rhetorical devices that Vonnegut has implemented to deepen the tone and ideals which are presented through each of them. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time after wishing to be left behind to die during the war. Billy Pilgrim has experienced his life through a linear time progression. After a certain stressing event he became unstuck in time and is then sporadically thrown into moments throughout his lifetime. From here he claims to have, “walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941.” (Vonnegut 29) Billy Pilgrim confronts his life from being in the war, being abducted by Tralfamadorians, to being an optometrist in Ilium, New York. Billy seems to have a closer connection to the Tralfamadorians than with anyone he has encountered in his life. Tralfamadorians are able to see in the fourth dimension, one of the abilities being able to perceive time as a whole from the beginning of the universe’s existence to its end.
Fate is present in the book as one of the many devices Vonnegut uses. This is especially true when the Tralfamadorian guide begins to explain the death of the universe after Billy naively warned them that humans would bring the end of the universe. Billy Pilgrim asks the seemingly peaceful Tralfamadorians, “How can a planet live in peace?” (Vonnegut 148) Where he has previously stated, “Earthlings must be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets aren’t now in danger from Earth, they soon will be.” (148) The Tralfamadorians reply with, “We blow [the Universe] up, experimenting with new fuels for our flying saucers. A Tralfamadorian test pilot presses a starter button, and the whole Universe disappears.” (149) They are unable to prevent this event from happening as it is, “structured that way.” (149) In the end their advice to Billy and a lesson Earthlings are to learn is to, “Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.” (150) Tralfamadorians also use an expression that is used throughout the novel that signifies a death quoted as, “So it goes.” Its constant use follows a death of any sentient being or idea. This quote can be easily understood as a corpse seen to be in a, “bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments.” (Vonnegut 34)
Slaughterhouse Five is structured the way it is to have the reader not only contemplate the crime that is the destruction of Dresden