Saturday, March 5, 2011

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut


Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut takes place during the WW2 period and a few years after. Billy Prilgrim is a soldier in the war and witnesses te devastating bombing massacre of Dresden, a "safe city" that only housed POWs(Prisoners of War) and civilians, by the U.S. Slaughterhouse 5 is a war satire and a psychological thriller as well. Chalk full of flashbacks, extraterrestrial abductions, death, satire, death, mysteries, death, millions of symbols, and more death. Billy 'travels' to Tralfamadore, a planet where these alien type creatures see everything at once, and only focus on the good things, and ignore the bad. Tralfamadore symbolizes a government that does terrible things like start wars, impose many taxes, and take away rights, that tells its' citizens not to focus on the bad things the government might do, but try to find happiness in the things that they do provide. Billy falls infatuated with that ideal and tries to spread the word of the Tralfamadorians to everyone else. Obviously, others react by calling him crazy and by pointing fingers and laughing. Billy eventually gets assassinated by Paul Lorrenzo, another soldier in the war who was a car thief and that committed many crimes and was just an all around bad person. Most of the soldiers Billy encounters in the war seem to take pride in war. They take pride in looting from who they have killed, they take pride in killing many enemy soldiers, and they also take pride in supporting their country, which in fact sent them there in the first place and took them away from their peaceful lives. Many of the war veterans have trouble coming back into society without massive violence. Some go crazy, and others commit murders and get thrown into jail. Billy just uses 'time travel' to escape the bad, aka WW2, and replaces his current situations with happy ones. Whatever happens, though, bad things always seem to happen to Billy, and he keeps on ignoring them. Billy only follows what the Tralfamorians have taught him when they abducted him and put him in a display on their planet so that he could be observed. Billy also takes advice from his favorite author, Killgore Trout. Trout's books are about propaganda and the cruel effects of what can happen if others follow what the government tells them to do and do not keep their own beliefs. The only place to find Trout's books are in the back corners of pornography shops. This shows that they are just tossed aside for the needs of those who are out of the war. Pornography is one of the many escapes to the fictional world where people can follow their dreams instead of following their heads.

1. If you knew that your government was unfair to you, would you stand up and say something? What problems might you encounter with going against everyone else? Why would you want to start problems instead of leaving it alone/Why would you want to leave it alone and not try to help your country grow and realize what's wrong?

2. What does war really do for people? Why does war happen? What can be done to prevent war and ensure that things like this don't happen? If you had gone to war and came back with a psychological trauma or disease, how would that affect you and would you try to be like you were before? In other words, would you try to hold the same job, talk to the same people, be as outgoing as you were etc, even with your disability?

13 comments:

Hayley D 11/12 said...

1. I'm not sure if I would stand up to the government, even if I knew that it was unfair. By going against the government, you are opening yourself up to criticism and possibly harm. But I think that you have a better chance of successfully standing up to the government if you go with a group. If you present something as a group, the government is much more likely to stop and listen to what you have to say.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I would probably leave it alone and not say anything. There are many problems caused by speaking out such as being cast out, hurt, judgement, etc. I feel like one person can't just go against the government and like Hayley said, a group would probably be more successful.

2. I don't think war does much for people at all but cause heartache. Wars happen because people don't agree on things and have to force their opinions. They can't even agree to disagree. I'm not sure how I would begin to even say how a trauma would affect me. I most likely would not keep the same job, friends or personality though. So many people come back like that from being active in war and seeing people die.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I feel that it is easy for one to say that he or she would go against the government if it were being unfair, however, no one person could do this on his own. The government is very powerful; no one single person could make a difference. If I were in a postition where I felt the government was being unfair, I would get together with others who felt the same way to try to make a change. Power also comes in numbers.

Brad S 11-12 said...

Hayley-
1. That is correct, and this is also what Billy was trying to do. To get a group to follow your beliefs, however, is the part that is difficult because that entitles going against the government's set rules. It obviously has been done before(Rev. War etc...) but that was when times were more simple. There weren't as many different ideas and it was just the basics for a new government. Billy, however, is trying to tell the people to only look to the good, and not the bad. This is ironic because that is exactly what the U.S. government is doing by not discussing the massacre of Dresden. Ignorance would be the correct definition. It's pretty much a circle of ignorance.

Kaitlyn-
1. Same thing i said to Hayley. Why wouldn't you want to stand up though? There would be no changes if that one person never stood up and made a group. Everything always starts with one person and evolves into many ideas.

2. Billy had schizophrenia but also took a job as an lenses corrector. This is also ironic because he fixed lenses which help people see, but he was blinded in his head by the war that he became 'crazy.'

Kristen-
You are absolutely right. As i've already stated before though, causes start with just one person who can connect their ideas to many others. Nothing gets done without one person speaking out. It's a hard thing to do, be the only one speaking out against the 'set rules' that were made by the government. Just look at Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

For question one, depending on how much I was offended by the government, like banning sports, then I would definitely stand up against it. By going against everyone else it would be very tough to gain support and my idea might be torn apart. The way I look at life is that everything needs to be criticized in order for it to become better. If we never had a nay-sayer in society then there would never have been an America.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1. If the government was being unfair, I would try and say something; however, I do not want to get the government on my bad side. If you go against the governemnt you may get atttacked verbally or even physically by others that strongly agree with the government. It will be more successful if you were to present your objective as a group to the government instead of just yourself. More people make a more effective statement.
2. War does not do much for anyone. War happens for may reasons from one person not agreeing to others wanting to take over a country. This leads to people trying to force their opinions on others and leads them to not agree. Coming back with a trauma or disease would affect me but not to a large extent. I would try to do my average day actions even with my disability. It may be harder, but I would try and work through it. War in general is a terible occurance and I feel that there really should never be a need for it.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1. If the government was being unfair, I would try and say something; however, I do not want to get the government on my bad side. If you go against the governemnt you may get atttacked verbally or even physically by others that strongly agree with the government. It will be more successful if you were to present your objective as a group to the government instead of just yourself. More people make a more effective statement.
2. War does not do much for anyone. War happens for may reasons from one person not agreeing to others wanting to take over a country. This leads to people trying to force their opinions on others and leads them to not agree. Coming back with a trauma or disease would affect me but not to a large extent. I would try to do my average day actions even with my disability. It may be harder, but I would try and work through it. War in general is a terible occurance and I feel that there really should never be a need for it.

Nick E. 13-14 said...

1. Well the government will always be unfair to me, personally. Especially in my generation. The gov't is extremely unfair and corrupt. But because I'm only one person and not a very political person to begin with, I don't feel the motivation to stand up for what I believe to when it comes to politics. That's why there are activist groups and parties. I just let them fight for what is right in their eyes, and hopefully I find a group/party that I can follow. However, that hasn't happened yet, and probably will never happen.

Heather M. 13-14 said...

If i knew the government as unfair, i might try and stand up for myself. It would depend on the issue i was fighting for and if i even had a chance of making any kind of difference. If i stand up for what i believe is right, others may not have the same opinion which means they will fight against me and it could become chaotic. Sometimes its just easier to leave certain issues alone to avoid causing more problems.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

Attaining public office is often a daunting task. Leaders need to understand the demands of the people which is difficult because there are so many different view points. Problems can be avoided if there is usually a general consensus made by the general population. This is not always the case though.

Liz S.11-12 said...

As much as i would like to say I would, i'd probably never stand up to an unfair government. You would face a ton of scorn and judgement from the people you were opposing and their supporters. Starting problems bring change, while leaving things alone means you can keep things the way there are, and to some people that is really comforting.

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

Being as outspoken as I am, I can definately say that if the government was doing something that I disagreed with, I would definately say what I think needs to be said. I have grown up in a household with a very assertive councilman and have learned from none other than the best that the only way you will ever be heard and that other people will be brave enough to speak out and be heard is if someone starts the rumble which initiates the roar. So many people are afraid to say what they really believe in these days in fear of being looked down at or standing out amongst the rest of a conformist society. If everyone keeps this up, then NO ONE ever says what they feel is important. Someone has to do the dirty work. Might as well take chances and risk being looked at by the opposing side and just say what you feel.

At least you can't look back twenty years from then and say you never did.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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