Homework Help

What are some implementations and examples of the motif of death in...

user profile pic

ashkin1194 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 14, 2010 at 5:45 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What are some implementations and examples of the motif of death in Slaughterhouse-Five?

I'd like to write my thesis on death in this book. what are some things i can "Critically think" about and analyze regarding death? Why is it important? What purpose does it serve?

And also--what purpose does the "so it goes" phrase hold?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

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

Posted May 14, 2010 at 6:09 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut uses repetition  and verbal irony (understatement and litote) to reveal that Billy Pilgrim has experienced many deaths and that death is inevitable.

Repetition: Vonnegut repeats "So it goes" near the ends of episodes and chapters to underscore that "death marches on."

Verbal Irony (understatement): Vonnegut says, "So it goes."  Not only does time go on, but so does death.  Also, Vonnegut says that Billy Pilgrim ‘‘has seen his own death many times."  To say that a soldier of World War II and a survivor of the Dresden massacre has seen death many times shows that, in fact, he has seen death so much that he has become desensitized to it.

Litote: "So it goes" is a phrase that avoids saying what it really means: "it" equals "death."  This is a kind of euphemism in which the author repeats it so much that he avoids making his narration sound so depressing.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes