Archetypes In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

930 Words4 Pages
Through the use of characterization, an immense amount of novels are able to satirize and symbolize different types of people. In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, this technique is applied in many instances within the novel. The main character Billy Pilgrim symbolizes the common man, and everything about him, including his name, contributes to this representation. In this deftly written novel, the author deliberately chooses the minor characters as the embodiments of different archetypes. Valencia portrays the average housewife and the general unhappiness of married couples. Edgar Derby shows how wars bring out the worst in people, and Bertram Rumfoord is symbolic of the apatheticness of officials who hold power. They are indifferent to how the consequences of their actions affect helpless citizens, and do not view the masses as ‘human’. Vonnegut’s intent in adding these symbolic roles is to deepen the meaning of the novel and to further carry the message of the theme to the reader. Valencia, who epitomizes the average housewife, also represents the unexpressed discontentment of many married couples. She loves Billy excessively, but he does not reciprocate this. Billy continues to have the same “so it goes” attitude and is both indifferent and impassive to her death. This emotionless outlook substantiates the fact that he marries her purely for the sake of having a significant other, and does not genuinely love her. Upon thinking about their marriage together
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