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Slaughter HouseFive As An American Novl Essay

Slaughter House-Five As An American Novl Essay, Research Paper

Slaughter House – Five as an American Novel

Slaughterhouse – Five by Kurt Vonnegut is clearly an American novel. Vonnegut

wrote this novel in an attempt to show Americans how they make mistakes as humans,

and to do this, he had to link them to the book somehow. He accomplished this by

including different aspects of American life, such as the family, the material possessions

of Americans, and items that are purely American. By doing this, Vonnegut ensures that

the people reading the book will be drawn in an able to identify with it. The images and

symbols Vonnegut uses easily distinguish Slaughterhouse – Five as an American novel.

Billy Pilgrim, the main character of the novel, is where most of the family is

focused. Billy has two children, one boy and one girl, and he also has a dog, named Spot.

This is a perfect representation of the American family. Vonnegut, describes this perfect

American family in the lines,

Billy became rich. He had two children, Barbara and Robert. In time, his

daughter Barbara married another optometrist, and Billy set him up in

business. Billy?s son Robert had a lot of trouble in high school, but then he

joined the famous Green Berets. He straightened out, became a fine young

man, and fought in Vietnam(24-25).

Billy?s son went off to fight for the country and his daughter married a man in the same

business as her father. This view of the American family is what everyone strives for, but

rarely captures.

The materialism displayed by the American family is also stressed by Vonnegut.

He tries to show that the characters in the novel are very materialistic. This materialism

is, sadly, a definite sign of Americanism. America was established with the idea that

anyone could come here and ?make it?, but rules quickly became established about what

it really meant to ?make it?. The stories of ?rags to riches? have come to represent what

America is. Vonnegut tells us in this novel that we have moved away from what is

important and put to much power into things like money and possessions. We have come

to the point that destroying culture isn?t a problem as long as we find out that our bombs

work the way they should. By drawing a parallel between the characters in the book and

the readers, as Vonnegut did, he allows us to identify with them and see the problems

first hand.

Vonnegut also allows Americans to identify with the novel by using things that

are purely American. Some of these things are physical items, such as ?Billy?s own

Cadillac El Dorado Coupe de Ville(57)?, an American car. Also, when Billy wants to

spread the story of his trip to Tralfamadore, he immediately searched for a TV station to

air his story. This is a very American concept, the use of TV to promote oneself. Then,

according to Billy, when the Tralfamadorians took Billy from earth, they stopped at

Sears, an American store, to steal furniture to make Billy comfortable. When Billy gets to

Tralfamadore, he finds that the aliens pasted a western to the TV set to make him feel

comfortable. He describes by saying, ?There was a picture of one cowboy killing another

one pasted to the television tube(112).? Vonnegut uses these objects to let Americans

know that he is purposely talking to them.

If the symbols and ideals that Vonnegut produces aren?t enough to make this an

American novel, he also just comes out and makes comments directly about the

American way of life. When talking about Billy?s mother, Vonnegut says, ?Like so many

Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in

gift shops(39).? This American novel is purposely written this way in order to pull

Americans into the book and make them realize the truths they may hide.