Slaughterhouse Five Narratology

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Narratology: Slaughterhouse Five and The French Lieutenant’s Woman The role of the narrator is crucial in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman as they help to convey the thematic concerns of writing and reality versus fiction, present in both texts. As the narratologist, Gérard Genette, discusses in Narrative Discourse, there are several ways of identifying the means in which the role of the narrator contributes to the aforementioned thematic concerns using Genette’s approach towards narratology (Guillemette). Both narrators assume the role of the implied author and are highly concerned with the process of writing. As such, they possess a sense of self-reflexivity towards the complex process of…show more content…
Boundaries between Reality and Fiction are often exposed and highlighted through the use of various narrative techniques, thereby making it a fundamental element in both texts. The narrator of Slaughterhouse Five seeks to reinvent his “recount” of the “destruction of Dresden”. As written in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, we “fictionalize” our past as “We are all in flight from reality” (Fowles 97). This is apparent in Slaughterhouse Five as the narrator makes it clear that his story has a testimonial function although he does not construct the narrative in its original chronological structure. Instead, the narrator uses a nonlinear chronological narrative structure that truly reflects the indelible and traumatic impact of war. For instance, in the embedded narrative, Billy Pilgrim is the protagonist who has the ability to haphazardly travel through travel. Here, the narrator uses time-travel as a technique to present the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that Billy suffers from after his time in World War Two. As the implied author, the narrator intentionally uses time travel as a literal manifestation of the traumatic effect of war on an individual where the time travel is triggered by Billy’s war memories. This is another main thematic concern in Slaughterhouse Five that is simultaneously conveyed through the narrator’s blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction. Rather than use analepsis and prolepsis as narrative time devices, as proposed by Genette (Barry 226), the narrator attempts to reconcile the gap between reality and fiction through the use of time travel as a narrative technique in order to allow readers to experience a similar disconcerting effect of war, bridging the gap between the fictional element of the narrative and the reality of war for the
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