Monday, March 18, 2013

slaughter house five

slaughter house five

I've read Slaughter House Five once before in high school, and I never really recognized the depth and meaning of the novel until my second reading. As Kurt Vonnegut writes the commentary about the war and the tragic, gruesome, and remorseful occurrences, there is great humor encompassed within the story itself. So it goes. 

In Chapter 3, one of the main scenes that stuck out to me was the plaque with the Serenity Prayer..

God grant me me
The serenity to accept
the things I cannot change, 
to change the things I can, 
and wisdom always to tell the difference. 

I have always kept this prayer written somewhere in my room, car, or even my phone. I've always felt some sort of connection with these words. Billy Pilgrim's commentary on this prayer was something I found to be  very interesting. 

"Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future." 

Here we see the hopelessness that Billy Pilgrim seems to feel, as he is stuck in frustration with time and its control. I believe that the idea of being stuck in time, with things that we are unable to change, serve as relatable topics that we as readers, and humans, can relate to completely. It is true that we as humans, in fact, have little to no control on the past, present, or future, which makes the statement about Billy Pilgrim's hopelessness relatable, to some. 

Throughout the first three chapters, there are great descriptions of destructive and gruesome events that occurred in the war, but most were complemented with, "so it goes." Destruction turns casual...Incongruity Theory in action. 

Death is something that is never given any emotion, or remorse within Slaughter House Five, for it is displayed as a part of life, something that does not merit emotion or sadness. So it goes. 

This could be deemed sad, to think that one's death is merely a part of life and not a saddening event, but I believe it is Vonnegut's humor coming out to play. Perhaps Vonnegut is mocking the nature of humans to mourn the passing of a loved one, but I believe my analysis will be much stronger as I complete the book. 

One of my favorite parts of the book is the explanation of how so many men were killed, the city was burned to ashes, and one man was arrested for taking a teapot. Here I see Vonnegut's humor playing an active role immediately in the opening of the novel. Here, there is great incongruity in the fact that one would not expect the arrest of a man solely because he stole a teapot, while the whole city is being burned to ruins. Although subtle, Vonnegut's humor is active throughout the novel, especially with the commentary of "so it goes," and "poo-tee-weet."

As I already see humor actively working within Vonnegut's novel, Slaughter House Five, I am eager to complete the novel and recognize and appreciate the humor that I did not see in my first time reading this novel. 

Until our next laugh, 


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