Slaughterhouse Five: The Theme of Destruction

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The novel Slaughter House Five written by Kurt Vonnegut illustrates the occurrences of the Second World War, in Germany, in the city of Dresden. The author writes the novel by highlighting several themes to point out various issues that took place during the war in Dresden. One of the most notable themes in the novel is the destructive nature of the war. As is common knowledge, war is very destructive in nature, and in the book, Vonnegut uses this theme to exemplify how war destroyed several things in the country. The first example of the destructive nature of war is the firebombing of Dresden. According to the author, the bombing of this town led to its destructions and the endangerment of the lives of people living in the city. The bombing did not only destroy the beautiful nature of the city but also destroyed the buildings and the other infrastructure in the town. Demolition of the houses through the bombing also meant destruction to normal human activities. For example, businesses could not go on as usual since people were scared of the aftermaths of the war. The bombing interfered with the way people lived in the town because they moved from freedom to living in fear of more attacks. The peoples lives changed overnight due to the fear inflicted on them by the Second World War bombings

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Secondly, the destructive nature of the Second World War in Germany was evident in how it destroyed peoples lives. For instance; Billy lives in constant fear of more wars from his neighbors. He is also hallucinating all the time. Hallucinations come from the fact that he is scared of living in his home town of Dresden for fear that peoples lives are in danger. At some point in the novel, he walks into his son and does not seem to recognize each other. This is another indication of how the war in Dresden destroyed family lives of its occupants. Lives changed so negatively that even family members that were once close-knit have become so distant that they cannot recognize one another even though they live under the same roof. Similarly, the name Billy that is a short form of William is used to emasculate the character Billy in the book. This is another show of how the war played a part in reducing men to miniature boys. Even though he is grown up and deserves to be called by his mature name of William, people around him still refers to him by his childhood name. The reduction to childhood is not only evident in Billys life but also in the lives of other people living in the country as they have become consumed in fear and constant need of protection as if they were little children.

Apart from reducing the lives of people and turning the town into rabbles, the war also destroyed peoples lives by causing massive deaths. The novel shows that a large number of people lost their lives during the war. Many children were rendered orphans because their parents died in the bombing and other war-related catastrophic actions. On the same note, many families were left homeless as the fire from the bombing raged through their homes and destroyed property. People also became jobless because once the city was destroyed by the bomb, some offices closed down while many employers had their long time investments and businesses reduced to nothing. This meant that those employed in such organizations had to become jobless after the war. Being jobless also lowered the standards of living of the people in Dresden because they lacked means of making lively ends meets.

The author also explains the destructive nature of war by showing how Billys life navigates from normal to narrowly surviving asphyxiation in a meat locker in Dresden and being nearly incinerated in a city which according to the author has fire raining from the sky. The change of life from ordinary to the meat locker to the incineration indicates how the fire from the war changed and destroyed peoples lives. The fact that Billy escaped the ordeal does not mean that everyone was lucky enough to survive the effects of the war. The author states that many people lost their lives in the bombing by being incinerated to death while others suffocated in the fire. The destructiveness of the war is also indicated by how Billy suffers in different ways irrespective of the fact that he is a successful business person with a family but still suffers many tragedies and issues that surround his lives. The book shows that the people in Dresden had to delay and prolong most of their plans due to the war. Thus, the war acted as a platform of setbacks in people lives. This can be illustrated by the fact that the author took over twenty years to finish writing his novel. In the same way, other people in the nation ad Dresden, in particular, had to delay some of their dreams due to the Second World War.

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