Essay Comparing Time's Arrow And Slaughterhouse-Five

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Time’s Arrow and Slaughterhouse-Five are both novels with an unconventional approach. By defying the expectation that such writing ought to be sombre, they deliver their own brand of mourning. Vonnegut interweaves the horrors of war with the seemingly trivial and absurd to create greater impact. The language, which is so often blunt and direct to the point of vulgarity, takes on a different character in the darker moments. It is transformed into something more childlike and delicate, suddenly capable of conveying the aftermath of a massacre with simple respect. Amis’ novel is more linear, reversing ‘time’s arrow’ and swapping around creation and destruction, good and evil. This fundamental difference allows the exploration of the conscience of an unlikely protagonist- a Nazi war criminal. With our initial repulsion mitigated by the temporal inversion, we are able to glimpse Odilo for what he really is- a human being. In some ways this is a deeper and more disturbing lens through which to view the Holocaust.

To trivialise is ‘to make something seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is’ and to memorialise is to ‘preserve the memory of’ …show more content…

Amis acknowledges the direct influence of a particularly memorable scene in Slaughterhouse-Five, which forms the basis for the converse flow of time experienced by his narrator. The scene unfolds in chapter four, as Billy experiences a movie of the bombing of Dresden play out in reverse, whilst hiding in a meatlocker as it is happening: ‘Miraculous devices’ gather up the fires into canisters collected by American bombers; the German guns suck ‘fragments from the crewmen and the planes’. The logic of this sequence is appropriately echoed by Odilo in Time’s Arrow, when he remarks, “[c]reation is easy, destruction is hard work” (a succinct summary of a world in which, at least from our perspective, entropy is

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