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Slaughterhouse Five

             Slaughterhouse Five is the story of a small, timid man named Billy Pilgrim. Billy attended optometry school before being drafted into the United States army during the second world war. The book illustrates his inglorious experiences in Germany, particularly those in the once beautiful city of Dresden. The author, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote this book in a non-sequential manner. That is to say, there is no plot or chronological succession to this story. Every page in the book can bring you to a different time or circumstance in Billy's life. Vonnegut uses extensive irony, imagery, personification, and a little singing bird throughout the book to connect these seemingly unrelated events.
             There is a fictitious element to this book - the idea of time travel. Billy jumps through time, experiencing various events of his life completely out of order. While he is on the alien planet of Tralfamadore, he is taught that all time happens simultaneously, and therefore, nobody ever truly dies. At first this seems like a good thing, but to Billy Pilgrim, who cannot chose which aspects of his live to relive, brutal acts of war also live on forever. Billy repeatedly relives his time in Dresden, though at times it is simply because he is remembering it.
             The book has four main settings. Germany during world war two; Ilium, New York, before and after the war; an alien planet called Tralfamadore; and Vonnegut's actual life which he has placed inside the book. Each setting has a significant effect on the story. While Billy is in Germany, the reader learns of thousands of senseless deaths. While he is on Tralfamadore, Billy is taught that all time has always existed, and will always exist. The best thing we can do is ignore the bad moments of our life, because we cannot change them. So it goes. When Vonnegut places himself inside the book, particularly in the first chapter, the reader is told that the all the events of the story are true, more or less, and that Vonnegut experienced the Dresden bombings firsthand.

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