Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut | Teen Ink

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut MAG

August 31, 2012
By alwayssunshine PLATINUM, Charlotte, North Carolina
alwayssunshine PLATINUM, Charlotte, North Carolina
24 articles 5 photos 147 comments

Chaos. That's the only way to explain this book. Absolute chaos. Reading the first paragraph, I was intrigued. By the second paragraph, I wanted to give up. And you probably will, too. My advice: Don't.
Seen through the eyes of the delusional Billy Pilgrim, war embodies a new meaning in Slaughterhouse 5. Through this character, Vonnegut does much more than describe our society – he puts us in the middle of our nonsensical brutality, bellyflopping us into our own world, so we experience the full force of our hypocrisy, an overwhelming experience.

A time-traveling protagonist makes for a bit of brow-furrowing, but eventually, I began to understand the twisting format and yielded to its apparent randomness. When I stopped trying to make sense of it, it started taking shape: it's not supposed to make sense.

The chaos is Vonnegut's point. He cleverly compels us to look inward by paralleling humans to Tralfmadorian aliens. He forces us to point our fingers in a new direction: at us. He reveals that we are our own worst enemy by toying with the irony of an American prisoner of war being bombed by Americans, mocking our cruelties by showing that we're just hurting ourselves.

Although Pilgrim's questionable sanity and time traveling make Slaughterhouse 5 anything but a quick or easy read, this impactful anti-war novel is worth our confusion. The frustration, which is really a frustration with society, is what makes this a masterpiece. And let Vonnegut do what he intended: expose us to ourselves.

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