There are some terrible reviews of SH5 floating around Goodreads, but one particularly awful sentiment is that Slaughterhouse-Five isn't anti-war.
ThisThere are some terrible reviews of SH5 floating around Goodreads, but one particularly awful sentiment is that Slaughterhouse-Five isn't anti-war.
This is usually based on the following quote.
"It had to be done," Rumfoord told Billy, speaking of the destruction of Dresden. "I know," said Billy. "That's war." "I know. I'm not complaining" "It must have been hell on the ground." "It was," said Billy Pilgrim. "Pity the men who had to do it." "I do." "You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground." "It was all right," said Billy. "Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does. I learned that on Tralfamadore."
For context, Mr. Rumfoord is an old military historian described as "hateful and cruel" who wants to see weaklings like Billy exterminated.
On Tralfamadore, Billy was introduced to the revelation that all things happen exactly as they do, and that they will always happen that way, and that they will never happen any other way. Meaning, time is all at once. The aliens, incidentally, admit to destroying the universe in a comical accident fated far into the future, and they're very sorry, but so it goes. <- passive acceptance
The entire story up to this point has been about Billy, buffeted like a powerless pathetic leaf in a storm, pushed this way and that by forces entirely outside his tiny purview. He lays catatonically in a hospital bed after the plane crash and the death of his wife, and all the time traveling back and forth from Dresden where toddlers and families and old grannies and anti-war civilians were burned alive in a carefully organized inferno (so it goes), and Billy is about ready to agree to absolutely anything.
It can't be prevented. It can't be helped.
You're powerless, after a while. What hope have we, or anyone caught in the middle of a war, or even the poor soldiers who are nothing but pawns and children (hence the children's crusade), to influence these gigantic, global events?
Therefore, Billy agrees with the hateful, the cruel Mr. Rumfoord, who is revising his military history of WWII, having previously forgotten to mention the Dresden bombing, which cost twice as many innocent lives as the nuking of Hiroshima. Women and children, not evaporated instantly, but melted slowly by chemicals and liquid flame, their leftovers, according to Billy, lying in the street like blackened logs, or in piles of families who died together in their little homes.
Incidentally, how can anything be pro-war or anti-war? Because being anti-war is a bit like being anti-conflict, anti-death, and anti-suffering. Is there a book that's pro these things? Is there a book that touches on the subject of war and is not against it?
We don't support wars, though we are sometimes forced to accept them. Anyone who thinks that the bombing of Dresden was necessary is delusional.
It's like saying, "yo, look how they bombed these innocents - that shit was wrong! Let's go bomb some innocents, too."