In Slaughterhouse V, Vonnegut critiques the idea that war is heroic and that one side in a conflict is all "good." The Americans, in firebombing Dresden and killing hundreds of thousands of German civilians, committed war crimes in World War II, just as the Nazis did. War, Vonnegut contends, has its own "logic" that can make such atrocities seem justifiable. Vonnegut, who himself witnessed the Dresden firebombing as prisoner of war, feels this...
In Slaughterhouse V, Vonnegut critiques the idea that war is heroic and that one side in a conflict is all "good." The Americans, in firebombing Dresden and killing hundreds of thousands of German civilians, committed war crimes in World War II, just as the Nazis did. War, Vonnegut contends, has its own "logic" that can make such atrocities seem justifiable. Vonnegut, who himself witnessed the Dresden firebombing as prisoner of war, feels this is wrong.
The novel also critiques and satirizes the vacant and complacent materialist culture of the post-war United States. Billy Pilgrim comes home from his shattering experiences in the war to become an optometrist and settle into an ordinary middle-class life of money-making and ease, an almost absurd transition from a war zone. While optometry symbolizes Billy's insight, it is also an almost comically ordinary profession. Is this post-war world what so many people died for, the novel asks?
In chapter 3, we learn that Pilgrim has a quote on his office wall:
A lot of patients who saw the prayer on Billy’s wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.” Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.
The novel satirizes or makes fun of the banal response ordinary clients, who have not been through what Pilgrim has, have to this serenity prayer. It also satirizes the idea in the prayer itself that humans have the free will to change anything: Pilgrim knows from his travels to Tralfamadore that what he "could not change were the past, the present, and the future," which means basically that to him the prayer is a joke or a mocking reminder than humans really can change nothing.
Kevin Carneglia11/21/07Per. 5 Science Fiction
Examples of Satire and Irony
One example of Satire in the book
by Kurt Vonnegut is when theauthor talks about Kilgore Trout’s book,
The Gutless Wonder.
The book is about a robotthat drops napalm on people that burns their flesh, yet people dislike him for the fact thathe has bad breath. This is Satire because it is making fun of the values of Humans. It saysthat people are shallow because they care more about the robot’s outside than the fact thatthe robot kills people with no remorse.Kurt Vonnegut also uses irony to get his point across. For example, on page 201, Billy isin the bookstore when he sees a novel by Kilgore Trout,
The Big Board.
It is about a manand woman who get kidnapped and put on display in an alien zoo. In the zoo, there is alarge board that shows the news and a ticker that shows stock quotes. But the board andnews ticker are both fakes. This is ironic because almost the exact same thing ishappening to Billy. I think it may also be satirical because I believe the fake board andthe ticker tape are symbols of the propaganda used by both sides during World War Two.Just like the way the Government controls the news that gets to people, the aliens on the planet that controlled the board could tell their prisoners anything they wanted to,whether it was true or false.Another irony is what becomes of Edgar Derby, a teacher who ends up in the army and befriends Billy. In the end, Edgar Derby is tried for stealing a teapot and shot, but that isafter the entire city of Dresden is burned down. The irony is that Derby survived the