Kurt Vonnegut

Start Your Free Trial

Can somebody give me a synopsis of the book Slaughterhouse Five including plot points, characterization, setting, themes, and tone?

Expert Answers info

handbooktoliterature eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2013

write74 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had a menial career in writing by the time he finished and published what would become his most impactful novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.  This was his opus and he told everyone who asked him in the time leading up to its publication that he had been working on "a novel about the fire bombing of Dresden."

Dresden is where Vonnegut was held captive in World War II as a prisoner of the already decimated Nazi forces. While a POW there, Vonnegut lived in an abandoned slaughterhouse funf, the inspiration of the title. It that building Vonnegut, his captors, and fellow prisoners of war waited out the sudden fire bombing of the citizen filled Dresden. Once they emerged from the building to survey the damage, Vonnegut saw a hell on earth he could have never imagined back home in Indianapolis. All the beautiful buildings were leveled and disturbingly, many of the city's citizens had been burned to their furniture where they had tried to hide from the bombers. 

Vonnegut's job for the remainder of his time under captivity was to collect the charred remains of the German citizens and clear the rubble that used to be Dresden. So it goes.

HUMANITY: Vonnegut begins the novel by establishing himself as both narrator/character. He tells the reader his struggles to write the novel, and how he went and visited an old war buddy, O'hare,  who also had a hard time remembering how things went and how they might be told. O'hare's wife makes Vonnegut promise  that he won't write a silly war book that makes young scared boys look like macho heroes, and Vonnegut swears he won't. His intent is to show how ugly the destructive side of HUMANITY is and not glorifying how ugly and destructive people can be.


(The entire section contains 594 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial