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
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
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.