Literary Qualities of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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Vonnegut's title page statement that Slaughterhouse-Five is written in a "telegraphic schizophrenic manner" is a fairly accurate description of the novel's stylistic approach. Drawing on the literary devices of "flashback" and "flash-forward," Vonnegut ignores the restrictions of linear time and fixed space to fashion a novel that, despite its sometimes extraterrestrial setting, displays less affinity with science fiction than it does with psychological drama.

Vonnegut, the writer-narrator, moves freely through narrative time, mixing descriptions of historic Dresden and his personal wartime experiences with Tralfamadorian fantasy and characters from his earlier fiction. Playing Tralfamadorian time against sequential Earth time allows Vonnegut to establish the psychic disorder of both Billy and the society that has produced him.

Vonnegut denies being a science fiction writer, and some critics have argued that Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel of "science reality" rather than science fiction. Vonnegut describes a world in which technology has rendered an event...

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This section contains 317 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Slaughterhouse-Five Study Guide
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Slaughterhouse-Five from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.