Identify specific themes addressed by the two censored books. Demonstrate how social, political, and moral values change or remain the same over time and are shaped by nation and culture.
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Conformity to social norms is probably the most significant thematic similarity between these two novels. In both works, considerable exploration and expression is dedicated to the moral problems that arise from blind conformity to accepted wisdom and adherence to social norms.
A use of sarcasm in the presentation of these ideas further connects the two novels.
I would never really have thought to compare these, but what first comes to mind is that both of them are about people trying to survive in a mad, mad world. In each case, we have a character trying to do what seems right when the world around him is strange and crazy.
Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut have often been compared. Vonnegut has been called "the Twain for the Nuclear Age," as both used satire to comment on society. There are several articles that discuss this, one good one discusses how Vonnegut "used humor to tackle the basic questions of human existence" just as Mark Twain did.
The article can be found at:
Both novels deal with a main character or characters excluded from the society around them. Because of that exclusion, the characters come to criticise the society, its morals and its actions of which they are surrounded, but not included. In Huck Finn, the question centers around slavery; in Slaughterhouse Five, it centers around the firebombing of Dresden. In both these novels, the "moral conflict" that their respective situations create has the effect of undermining the morality; Huck comes to a point where he "can't pray a lie," and Billy comes to a point where he becomes "morally indifferent" after surviving Dresden. Huck Finn was originally banned because it showed Huck fraternizing with Jim, who transforms from non entity to a person; the story flies in the face of the institutional racism that sadly mars American History. Interestingly, in more recent times, the book has been banned by the "politically correct" establishment for the use of the word "nigger." Slaughterhouse Five, like many books, was initially banned because of its use of expletives; it continued to be banned because it promoted an amoral view of existence. Such a view could not justify the glorification of war and would undermine authoritarian views of politics and religion. Vonnegut, like Twain, used humor throughout their novels to explore the question of human existence. Both wrote satirically, and both were deeply pessimistic about man and his place in the cosmos.
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