Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Why does Kurt Vonnegut use metafiction in Slaughterhouse-Five? What are the good examples of metafiction in the novel?

Kurt Vonnegut uses metafiction in Slaughterhouse-Five because the technique allows the author to include himself as a character in the novel. He uses his own voice as a method of lending credibility to the narrative of the story and its underlying anti-war message. Vonnegut recalls in the novel his military service and the firebombing of Dresden. These are some of the best examples of metafiction in literature.

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Metafiction is a literary device employed in a fiction work that writes about fiction. The term meta generally refers to an astute awareness about something or oneself. Authors using this technique depart from ordinary and traditional conventions normally found in novels. Instead, they write fiction about fiction. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is a prime example of the use of this technique.

In Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut places himself into the story as an actual character. He purports to be an author who is writing a book about his experiences during World War II and his witnessing of the firebombing of Dresden, Germany during the conflict. With this autobiographical start, the author immerses himself into the action of the novel on a different level than the other characters:

All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his...

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