Essay on Opposing Viewpoints in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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Opposing Viewpoints in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

The Allied firebombing of Dresden has been called the worst and most unnecessary air raid in military history. The German city was home to no military bases or stations, but on February 13, 1945, death rained down from the air on nearly 135,000 people, most of them civilians, compared to the 74,000 deaths caused by the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Novels 270). Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a Allied prisoner of war during this raid, hidden underground in an abandoned slaughterhouse. After surviving the war, Vonnegut came home to the United States to become an author. Though he had published several books before Slaughterhouse Five, this book became his most famous and
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Billy has the unique trait to come "unstuck in time," or time travel, though it is involuntary. Slaughterhouse Five is actually multiple stories told in parts because Billy becomes "unstuck" in time from one break to another. So, rather than each moment coming once and then passing away forever, Billy can relive moments from his past and preview those of his future.

During one episode of his life, Billy is abducted by aliens from the planet of Tralfamadore. On this planet, there are four dimensions, with the additional one being time. The aliens explain to Billy that time is different for Tralfamadorians and earthlings because in the fourth dimension time is spatial, and one can visit a moment in time like earthlings visit locations. Here is the first major clash of ideas; Linear time vs. Spatial Time. While ridiculous sounding, Vonnegut builds an argument for spatial time through Billy's story. By advancing each story in pieces, he creates the effect that each story is happening simultaneously. This agrees with the Tralfamadorian view that all time exists in the present (Harris). Vonnegut also undercuts the reliability of linear time; all attempts to piece together one part of Billy's life fail, due to conflicting facts and vague references. Vonnegut also uses this technique to deny the "pastness" of Billy's past and the "futureness" of his future, thus making all events present (Harris). The many stories

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