Examples Of Bildungsroman In Slaughterhouse Five

786 Words4 Pages

Ian Blackburn
Mrs. Staber
AP English
29 November 2022

Slaughterhouse Five: An Anti-Bildungsroman
A bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, recounts the psychological or moral development of its protagonist from youth to maturity, when this character recognizes his or her place in the world. Unlike most authors, Kurt Vonnegut challenges the idea of a typical bildungsroman. In Slaughterhouse Five, our protagonist Billy Pilgrim doesn’t undertake any personal growth from his experiences. Instead we witness Billy’s detached and declining mental state through the course of his aimless thoughts. In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut subverts the expectations of a traditional bildungsroman to explore the effects of war on Billy’s mind, and in turn, create …show more content…

Unlike the traditional bildungsroman, Vonnegut starts the main character at their best, and hits them with a tragedy that will trigger the start of their decline. Using this, Vonnegut challenges the traditional ideas of bravery and heroism in war. Though the story takes place after the war, it isn't till later that Billy’s past is explained. Using Mary, Vonnegut explains to Billy and the audience that "they were just babies in the war" to provide juxtaposition to Billy's present character. This juxtaposition provided from Mary’s quote gives us insight to how Billy’s story began, and how war has shaped him into the damaged man he is now. Instead of using the war as a stepping stone for growth, Slaughterhouse Five uses the bombing of Dresden to illustrate the absurdity and horror of war. A meaningful quote that provides insight into the true meaning of war is when Billy describes war to be “so short and jumbled and jangled, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again”. Using Billy’s description of war, Vonnegut undermines the traditional, heroic war narratives created by many others at the time, instead using Billy to show the senselessness of war, as well as how it impacts the

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