Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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What are the similarities and differences between Slaughterhouse-Five and The Things They Carried?

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Obviously any two books about war will have elements in common. Still, one might expect, based on what we've often been told about how different Vietnam was from World War II, that the war experiences narrated in these two books, Slaughterhouse-Five and The Things they Carried, would be dissimilar. Though outwardly this may be true, the experiences of men serving in the military, conveyed in both books, have a remarkable sameness in the impressions they impart to the reader.

Tim O'Brien's book is a series of connected stories and episodes about a platoon serving in Vietnam. Kurt Vonnegut 's novel (which, incidentally, was written during the same period, the late 1960's, when O'Brien's book takes place) by contrast has a dream-like fantasy quality, involving time travel and abduction by aliens, though the central event in it takes place in 1945 during World War II. Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, a soldier in Europe, is portrayed chiefly as a passive victim, a man through whom we are given access to...

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