What are some ways I could begin to relate themes between George Orwell's 1984 and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five?

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brodertj eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two themes that relate well to George Orwell's 1984 and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. The first theme is the destructiveness of war on a society. In 1984, Oceania exists in a constant state of war in order to consume the resources that would better the lives of its citizens. Keeping the population at a near starvation level encourages loyalty to the party overseen by Big Brother. In Slaughterhouse Five, this same theme is portrayed by the destruction of Dresden in February, 1945. Before World War II, Dresden was one of Europe's most magnificent and culturally important cities. In the novel, Vonnegut argues that the city's destruction had no strategic value, but was revenge undertaken by the British and Americans in the war's waning months.

The second theme that ties both novels together is war's effect on the individual. In 1984, Winston Smith knows nothing but rationing due to Oceania's endless war with Eastasia and/or Eurasia. Even as a party member, Winston's flat is shabby and rundown, two facts that Orwell describes in great detail in the novel's first pages. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim is haunted by memories from his time as a POW. For Billy, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) manifests itself as a delusion about the Tralfamadorians, aliens from another planet.