by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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What types of war destruction are expressed in Slaughterhouse-Five?

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The types of destruction caused by war in Slaughterhouse-Five are physical and psychological.

The novel describes the physical toll war takes.  Description of the destruction caused by the bombing of Dresden is explicit in the novel, as are the haggard states of the suffering soldiers--on both sides.  And humans have no control over whether or not they suffer.  Good soldiers die and suffer the same as poor soldiers.  Billy is a terrible soldier, for instance, and suffers because of it.  But he is just as likely to have suffered had he been a good soldier, as the execution of Edgar Derby demonstrates.

Billy suffers from more than physical hardship as a result of the war, however.  His mind is fragmented, as the collage-like structure of the narrative reveals.  He is passive in the face of war--how else can one be?  He has no control of his fate.  The only time he is active in the novel is when he decides to tell the world about Tralfalmadore, etc., near the end of his life.  Billy can't face the horrible memories of war, so he escapes however he can. 

After all, what can one do in the face of human bone meal and corpse mines?

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What are some of the destructions of war and destructive forces explored in Slaughterhouse-Five?

The mechanized nature of warfare is discussed and emphasized on a number of occasions. One case in point comes when Billy views the war films in reverse. 

"The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes.… The steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals … [which] were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again."

In addition to this scene of mechanized warfare, the atomic bomb is discussed in the text. The most prominent "destructive force" or element of destruction in the text is the Dresden fire bombing. 

This event is discussed repeatedly throughout the novel, beginning in the opening chapter. The novel ends just after the bombing has taken place. At this point the narrative has made clear just how destructive this event was, killing over 100,000 people in a single night. 

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