Function Of The Narrator In Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse

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The Function of the Narrator in Slaughterhouse 5 A narrator is an essential element in every narrative, taking on the responsibility of telling the story. This central role is in the control the narrator has over the story, in terms of perspective and pace, as well as the sequence in which events are related to the reader. In the limitations imposed by the view presented to the reader, the narrator is able to address the issues and concerns of the novel. In Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, the narrator deals with the concepts of war, time, and truth by creating different layers of reality that question the notions with which the reader views the world. In Slaughterhouse 5, the narrative perspective seems to shift throughout the novel. In the opening…show more content…
Similarly, Roy’s The God of Small Things also deals with issues of devastation – that of class and societal divides, as well as separation. Here, time is also fluid, the sequence between childhood and adulthood jumbled up. In such a structure, calm and chaotic moments are often mixed together, reflecting the disquiet caused by painful experiences. By withholding the chronological order of their stories, Vonnegut and Roy’s narrators are able to discuss the pressing issues in each section of life, some being more painful than others, some more important, some more impactful and resulting in behaviour and actions displayed in later years. Vonnegut’s narrator brings the reader on a roller coaster ride, alternating between war, and common everyday life. Billy’s constant transitions in time are discussed right from the start of his story, “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time” (Vonnegut, 12), alternating between the present, the past, and seemingly, the future. The juxtaposition of suffering, with life, death and absurdity seems to reflect how war and disaster can drop in suddenly, a disruption to the routine that can seem to completely wreck a person’s life, or arguably cause them to have a very different worldview, in the case of Billy. The story is difficult…show more content…
They can both be seen to employ literary devices to aid them in this challenge. In Slaughterhouse 5, the image of “a big dog [barking]” (Vonnegut, 34) is repeated throughout the novel, seen also in earlier and later chapters at least two more times. The image and sound seem associated with being caught during the war, but later in the novel, resurfaces when Billy Pilgrim approached Kilgore Trout (74). The reference to the author suggests that the dog could, rather than just a memory of war, also serve as a metaphor for the fear and anxiety that can be opened up by or towards new ideas, such as Billy’s lack of willpower, “he don’t want to live” (22) that Weary cannot fathom, or Trout’s inability to think of himself as a writer “for the simple reason that the world had never allowed him to” (75). The repetition suggests how life and status are dictated by society and the need for such hierarchies to perhaps be shaken. Roy’s narrator also uses repetition, but to a rather different impact, “It was Velutha” (Roy, 36) being a constant repetition to drill the idea of dependency the family had on him, and also to emphasize the guilt and atrocity of their treatment towards him simply because of caste status. Roy’s narrator is seen to use devices to being across the many horrors experienced by the family, especially the twins. Capitalisation of certain words and phrases such as “the Inevitable

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