Slaughterhouse Five This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Because the novel's title sounds like the fifth installment of a cheesy horror flick series, you would never guess this story involves World War II, an American soldier, and time travel to a far-off planet named Tralfalmadore.

The book is fiction based on historical fact. But it is primarily satire, screaming anti-war sentiments and protesting against the destructive consequences of war and its mentally damaging effects on the soldiers.

The life story of the main character, Billy Pilgrim, unfolds through flashbacks and flash-forwards. Pilgrim is a clumsy, gawky American soldier in the Second World War who becomes separated from his platoon. He bumbles along with three other American soldiers, until they are captured by the Germans. They taken to the doomed city of Dresden, Germany, and held captive in the stockyard slaughterhouses. Billy was in slaughterhouse number five; where the novel gets its name. The week after their capture, Dresden is bombed by the Americans and the city is completely destroyed. Billy survives physically, but not mentally.

Due to the effects of the horrific war, Billy's mind is drastically altered. He claims to have visited a distant planet called Tralfalmadore, in the fourth dimension. As a result of these visits, Billy is able to spontaneously travel through time. It is clear Billy Pilgrim is a changed man because of the war; but it is up to the reader to decide whether Billy has simply gone insane, or whether he has really reached a higher plane of perception.

This novel is a brilliant mix of historical fact and imaginative fiction, with a touch of science fiction and a lot of black humor. Vonnegut was an American soldier held prisoner in the Dresden slaughterhouses, so the descriptions are truthfully vivid. Also, bits of sarcasm and humor are tossed in, so the mood changes often, which coincides with the unconventional story.

The only drawback is that the time travel makes the storyline hard to follow. But, after reading it, you will have a different picture of what a war is like and what it can do. Vonnegut proves his worth as a satirist, and his important message comes across loud and clear


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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