Symbolism In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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Slaughterhouse-Five (The Children’s Crusade) by Kurt Vonnegut was originally published in 1969. This disorderly anti-war novel set in World War II Germany and fictional town Ilium in upstate New York tells of a young, middle aged, and elderly Billy Pilgrim and his extraterrestrial, time traveling adventures. As an optometry student in New York, Billy gets drafted to join the army in 1944. He gets sent overseas to fight in World War II, and is taken prisoner nearly immediately. Billy is unarmed and at the gunpoint of fellow American soldier Roland Weary when the German soldiers arrest them. Once Billy is taken prisoner, he begins jumping through time and living life out of chronological order because of the damage from this initial experience. Within the disorientation of his time travel, Billy suddenly …show more content…

A jabbering bird makes an appearance a few times and asks the question “Poo-tee-weet?” There are no words to describe the horrors of Dresden and war in general. The bird symbolizes that lack of anything worth saying while asking a question that has no answer. Some more animals that hold some meaning are the horses that draw the carriage through Dresden after the bombing. They are desperately thirsty and their hooves have cracked and bloodied so that every step is torture. The horses are almost driven mad with pain. Billy seems to be in nearly the same amount of agony as these poor animals. Much like Billy, the horses are innocent victims of great torture without ever understanding the meaning behind it. This leads in to the most repeated quote throughout the novel, “So it goes” (214). Through the eyes of the Tramalfadorians, it resembles the resignation to the way things are. Since this motif appears after nearly every death in the novel, the author has not adopted this version of the quote rather he uses it to show the utter inability to explain the needless violence that war

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