New Historicism In Slaughterhouse-Five

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History does not always convey the absolute truth. It offers only one side of the story. The strong and powerful voices always drown out the sounds of the weak and beaten. The winner’s word will always be taken over the loser’s. The content that lies within the textbooks was not written by the defeated. To understand the history of past cultures, it is imperative that both sides are heard. Many novels continually showcase this new outlook on history. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, demonstrates the New Historicism perspective with subjective accounts, reflections of the time it is written, and lack of the opposing side’s outlook. To begin, New Historicism is showcased by subjective accounts that are apparent in developing the…show more content…
People are influenced by the events that surround them. Individuals transform into a product of their environment and experiences of the time. The literature and art often reflects the time period in which it is written in, and Vonnegut’s novel is no exception. The novel takes place during World War II, but is written during the time of the Vietnam War. With the Vietnam War, came a lot of anti-war propaganda. Soldiers were not viewed as brave men risking their lives, and the war was seen as an unnecessary event. This type of mentality is seen in the novel with the perceptions of the soldiers. The narrator expresses the view of the time period when he states, “They were soldiers’ coats. Billy was the only one who had a coat from a dead civilian” (82). The meaning behind this is very crucial because it establishes a definite division between soldiers and civilians. Looking into a crowd, a soldier without a uniform blends in with everyone else. Simply, the explanation for this is that soldiers are like everyone else, but with a different job than most. It is not the soldier who is different, but people’s perception of them. Prejudice, ignorance, and an anti-war movement contributed to these biased views of soldiers. Making a distinction, between the civilian and the soldier, reduces the soldier’s humanity. This minor detail brings…show more content…
The absolute truth may not always be known. Another culture’s history may tell a varied version of an account that differs from the ones that exist in the textbooks in American classrooms. To every war, there is the triumphed and the defeated. Each side walks away with a drastically different outlook on what has occurred. By only hearing one side, individuals are there by limited and constricted to a less knowledgeable idea of the truth. Slaughterhouse-Five focuses on several worldly tragedies and international events. The Dresden and Hiroshima bombings are specifically mentioned multiple times. However, it lacks the depth that would come with the addition of the oppressed groups’ point of views. The missing viewpoint is highlighted when it states, “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base” (185). The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima would be told in a much different way from the Japanese perspective. This is an event many Americans felt was necessary to end the war with a country that would fight till death to bring honor. However, many Japanese people felt this was a needless war crime that resulted in deaths of innocent civilians. It is much easier for Americans to relay this event as a factual occurrence, but to those still feeling and have felt the

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