Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

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In the following excerpt, Harris examines the author-as-character, and the distancing and buffers set up by Vonnegut as self-protection.

Carefully read, Chapter One [of Slaughter­house-Five] emerges as a functional and illuminat­ing part of the novel as a whole. For the chapter contains passages that suggest three important facts crucial to a proper understanding of Vonnegut's novel: (1) the novel is less about Dresden than about the psychological impact of time, death, and uncertainty on its main character; (2) the novel's main character is not Billy Pilgrim, but Vonnegut; and (3) the novel is not a conventional anti-war novel at all, but an experimental novel of consid­erable complexity.

Billy Pilgrim, the putative protagonist of Slaughterhouse-Five, does not even appear in this chapter. Instead, the focus is on Vonnegut, the au­thor-as-character. Emerging is a portrait of the artist as an aging man, "an old fart...

(read more from the Critical Essay #2 section)

This section contains 1,802 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Slaughterhouse-Five Study Guide
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