Symbolism In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five

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Kurt Vonnegut, in his novel, “Slaughterhouse Five” recounts his experiences of World War II through Billy Pilgrim, the main character. Vonnegut’s purpose is to describe his wartime experiences and antiwar view. He adopts a complex and elusive tone in order to successfully engage and entertain his readers. Vonnegut begins his novel in the first person. We are given a first-person point of view in the sections embedded in the first and last chapters of the book. Throughout the rest of Vonnegut’s novel, he periodically pops up during Billy’s travels through Germany as a prisoner of war. Vonnegut somewhat compares Billy’s story to his own by describing the past events he had witnessed first-hand through Billy’s eyes. You see, Vonnegut was …show more content…
Vonnegut uses two types of symbolism in this specific novel including christ symbolism along with his use of regular symbolism. Like Jesus, Billy “predicted” his death. “As a time-traveler, [Billy] has seen his own death many times[.]”(141) He knew he “will die, have died, and always will die on February thirteenth, 1976.” (141) In relation to the Bible, Jesus predicted his death. “He then began to teach them that[…]he must be killed and after three days rise again.” (Bible, Mark 8:31) Vonnegut compares Billy and Jesus in many cases. Jesus was a man who traveled between heaven and earth just as Billy traveled between Tralfamadore and earth, he is even considered powerless and does not try to stop the fate that he knows comes for …show more content…
For example, the Vonnegut describes his own breath when he is drunk as "mustard gas and roses" (4) then on page 214 Billy describes the smell of the corpse mines as a “stink[…]like roses and mustard gas.” This specific usage ties the narrator and Billy together. It connects the Billy Pilgrim portion of the novel with our narrator, Vonnegut. There is also the “ivory and blue” bare feet of Billy’s as he walked home barefoot through Illium.(72) This was mentioned again when Billy was describing the feet of the dead hobo. Each of these repetitions is there to show that each part of the novel is connected in some

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