What are some examples of satire and social criticism in the book "Slaughterhouse Five"?

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katemschultz's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

There are many examples of satire and social criticism in Slaughterhouse Five. The first, and most obvious, topic that Vonnegut satirizes is war. While Billy is trying to come to grips with his war experiences, Vonnegut makes the statements that soldiers are merely babies when they go to war, that soldiers are ill-equipped to handle war (like Billy Pilgrim) and even if they are equipped, it doesn't help (Roland Weary). Sending these boys off to war is like sending them to the slaughterhouse--to certain death. And if these men do survive, they are significantly altered (like Billy).

Vonnegut also comments on the advancement of technology in warfare--the Tralfamadorians blow up the world experimenting with new fuels. Rumfoord receives a message indicating that we can now completely and totally eradicate the Japanese much more quickly than we used to be able to.

Vonnegut does his best to make war seem unglamorous by describing the conditions in the box car and at the war camps. The men become so passive, just allowing things to happen to them rather than being the gung-ho war heroes portrayed in most movies and books.

Vonnegut also makes commentary on religion, materialism, revenge (Paul Lazzaro) and death.


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