Irony In Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five'

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Storytelling has been the epitome of human expression for thousands of years. Along with musicians and artists, talented storytellers use their work to share ideas with others, often in an effort to evoke emotion or to persuade people to think similarly. Every element in a story is carefully crafted by the author in order to communicate a desired message to his or her audience. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut incorporates irony into the story to express his belief that fighting wars is illogical. Billy Pilgrim’s introduction to the war was grim. Soon after his arrival, the regiment he was supposed to be a chaplain’s assistant for was under attack. Three soldiers from the regiment allowed him to follow them. The three soldiers all had…show more content…
Another instance of an illogical death was the death of a high school teacher named Edgar Derby. Derby “pulled political wires” (Vonnegut 38) to initially be allowed to fight, but he was well-suited for the war, and he survived the fighting, getting captured, and the bombing of Dresden. However, after the war ended and some prisoners of war were taking war souvenirs, Derby “was caught with a teapot he had taken from the catacombs. He was arrested for plundering. He was tried and shot” (Vonnegut 95). Ironically, Derby died for something trivial even though the fighting and the air raid were the most life-threatening situations he was in and would have been the most probable cause for his demise. Vonnegut’s decision to make Derby’s death so unreasonable furthers the expression of his belief that starting and fighting wars is…show more content…
Eventually, the American prisoners were taken to Dresden where they were forced to stay in buildings that had previously been used as slaughterhouses. It was meant to be a punishment, however, this punishment ultimately became beneficial because when the bombing of Dresden began, the meat lockers in the slaughterhouses offered the people shelter. The only people in Slaughterhouse Five, the slaughterhouse Billy Pilgrim was staying in, were “the Americans and four of their guards and a few dressed carcasses... and nobody else. The rest of the guards had, before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were all being killed with their families” (Vonnegut 79). This was ironic because the act of making the Americans stay in slaughterhouses was meant to be a degrading punishment, comparing them to animals, but it saved their lives. Those who were not supposed to be getting punished were among the thousands of people killed in the air raid. By writing about this event in history and the people who lived compared to those who died, Vonnegut could further display the lack of logic found in
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