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What is the moral or message of Slaughterhouse Five?

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raw1962 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:55 PM via web

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What is the moral or message of Slaughterhouse Five?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:49 PM (Answer #1)

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In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five, his main moral messages are connected to the death of individualism in the midst of the mass suffering and destruction of war.

First, Vonnegut says that war is inevitable.  Stopping a war, or writing an anti-war novel, is like stopping a glacier: it is an exercise in futility.  As a result, humans lose their free will and become victims in the machinery of war, casualties of political ends.

Second, Vonnegut says that soldiers are reduced to children when fighting a war, such is their lack of freedom and passivity.  The subtitle for the books is "The Children's Crusade," a reference to how children used to be sold into war by their leaders.

Third, Vonnegut says that the machinery of war (science and technology) reduce the individual to the role of victim, such is the widespread death and destruction it breeds.

Fourth, Vonnegut says that humans, caught up in the affairs of the state, only see time in a linear fashion, as a series of cause-effect relationships.  In short, they fail to see the big picture, namely the consequences of their actions.

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