Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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What is the purpose of the backwards movie episode in chapter four of Slaughterhouse-Five?

The purpose of the backwards movie episode is to symbolize a return to wholeness and an end to war. It shows Dresden being un-bombed and made complete again. Vonnegut lived through the bombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war, and the novel was a reflection on its destruction. Imagining the city whole was a way for him to imagine his life without the negative effects the war forced on him.

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Chapter 1 of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is more of a prologue than a cold opening to the book. In this opening to his difficult-to-categorize but seriously surrealistic novel, Vonnegut provides the background to the story that follows. It is a story heavily influenced by the author’s experiences during World War II. Vonnegut’s experiences were exceptional in the scale of destruction he observed and experienced. Vonnegut was a survivor, ironically while a prisoner of war, of the Allied firebombing of the German city of Dresden. The author suggests that this was similarly as horrific as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In his opening chapter, Vonnegut describes a conversation he had with his publisher, during which he found himself obligated to explain the logic of having written a book about the bombing of Dresden. As Vonnegut summarizes his response to the uncomprehending publisher,

It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent...

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