5/5 – SH5

Today I’m going to talk very briefly about the three things we’re focusing on as readers of Slaughterhouse Five:

  • Irony. The book is ironic. It is both full of situational irony AND written in the ironic mode (Billy Pilgrim is a protagonist who “possess a lower degree of autonomy, self-determination, or free will than ourselves” who cannot overcome a situation we might see as relatively minor).
  • Nonlinearity. The book is not linear. You are not asked to read many books that are not linear, and so following the constellations of this book will be very helpful in developing your reading muscles.
  • Political will. The novel is a novel of great political will. In particular, Vonnegut was anti-war, and this is an anti-war novel. I’m not interested in preaching any position on war, but rather in exploring how an author like Vonnegut communicates his anti-war message without becoming preachy/didactic.

Then you’ll have the rest of the period to read Chapter 1 and do your lab book prompt about it:

The opening chapter addresses four key subjects: war, death, family, writing/art/being an author. Choose ONE of these concepts and put together a “case” (interpretation) of what you think Vonnegut is saying about the concept and how you know. Use specific passages and quotes to help you.


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