Mrs. Schuet's AP Literature Class of '16 discussion

Slaughterhouse-Five
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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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Sydney Chan | 4 comments Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

a. I chose this book, because I have heard many good things about this book. I want to understand what is the hype about it, as well as change up the genre of the books I have been reading.
b. I am on page 20. Currently, Vonnegut is talking about the experience of the bombing in Dresden during WWII, while he was in prison. After years, he passes by the slaughterhouse that was once the prison that he stayed in. In the taxi, Vonnegut, his buddy, and the taxi driver all talk about the topic of communism. He speaks about his failed attempts to write a book during wartime. Later on, he vows to not romanticize the war and its conditions. He also decides to name the book he is writing "The Children's Crusade". Vonnegut may also be suffering from PTSD.


Essam Rao | 2 comments a) I chose this book because Mr. Amarillas (my physics teacher) really liked this book, and he talked a lot about how great and interesting it was. Also, a lot of people in class have read this book and they said they liked it.

b) I'm only on page 10, but so far the book follows the protagonist Billy Pilgrim, a World War II soldier who is currently fighting in the Battle of the Bulge against the Germans. But then it gets a little confusing; Billy's whole life essentially passes before his eyes and I think he begins to time travel. So far, I am a little confused, but from what I've heard, things will start to make more sense. So I am pretty eager to see if this book lives up to its hype.


message 3: by Aniketh (last edited Dec 07, 2015 01:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Aniketh Bhat (mynameisaniketh) | 4 comments a. I chose this book because some of my friends have read it and had many good things to say about it. They recommended it to me, and felt like it was something I would enjoy, so I decided to check it out.

b. Currently, I am on page 12 in this book. While in a taxi, Vonnegut is talking in first person about World War II, passing by what used to be the prison he was in. He is in it with his friend, who he is talking to about their experiences. I haven't read much so far, but it seems to be building up for an interesting story.


message 4: by Ian (last edited Dec 07, 2015 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian | 4 comments a) Having just finished Catch-22, I was looking for another entertaining book that had some level of psychological analysis present. Both books focus on war and the effects of social conflict on personal outlook, and I find this concept very interesting.

b) So far I've only gotten to about page 14, but the book has already made me reread some sections to orient myself. Vonnegut starts the book from a first person perspective, describing his own time as a prisoner of war and updating the audience on his life decades later. He now wishes to write a book on war, and meets his friend (who was imprisoned with him) to talk about their experience. A piece that stood out to me was when the narrator's friend tells the prospective author that writing a book against war is as futile and writing against glaciers. This section gives me insight to the book's perspective of war, perhaps satirical?


Julie Wi (juliewi) | 6 comments a. I chose this book because I already had a copy of it but I never got around to reading it. I've heard a lot of good things about Kurt Vonnegut, and this is one of the bigger titles so I was just curious what kind of book it was.
b. I'm on page 20 right now, and since it's still early on I'm not quite sure what the book is going to be about. So far the main character is just talking about his experience writing a book about the bombing of dresden during World War II. I'm not sure that the main character is psychologically sound, because he doesn't always say things that make sense-- maybe that shows how witnessing the massacre has affected his sanity? He did explain on page 19 that his writing is disorganized and messy because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre-- which is actually a really profound point, and because of that I'm looking forward to the rest of the book.


message 6: by Anay (new)

Anay Patel | 4 comments I read this book for my previous OR Log, and although it seemed confusing at times, I thought it was a really interesting book. I also read it because Mr. Amarillas recommended it to us last year, and the lesson he taught us about time last year really tied in with the perception of time in Slaughterhouse Five.


message 7: by Philip (new)

Philip Cori | 4 comments Ian wrote: "a) Having just finished Catch-22, I was looking for another entertaining book that had some level of psychological analysis present. Both books focus on war and the effects of social conflict on pe..."

This first chapter definitely gives a certain perspective to the rest of the novel when Vonnegut actually gets into the story. (I've read this book). What can this chapter foreshadow in the events of the story? What does the first chapter reveal about Vonnegut's view on war? This is definitely something to look out for as you read on.


Katie (ktwingrove) | 5 comments Throughout the novel you will notice the use of dark humor (also known as black humor). What does this show about human nature and what is the author trying to prove when he uses it?


Sydney Chan | 4 comments "And so on to infinity" (3).
Vonnegut is really struggling in his right of mind to write this book, because his memories of Dresden are useless.
"At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody" (8). Vonnegut studied anthropology at the University of Chicago. Anthropology is the study of humanity, and he was told that there is no difference throughout humanity. This exemplifies the mindset of war, because soldiers are expected to act upon their first thought and reaction- resulting in the same mindset. Soldiers also do not have an identity in war, making them no different from any other. WWII has made the everyone tough which means each soldier is growing as an individual at the same rate.
Being a nurse, Mary O'Hare's job is to protect people and heal people. She hated the war, she did not want anyone dying in the wars. She acknowledges the fact that wars are completely romanticized.
"People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore" (22).
This quote is significant towards me, because you never go back to what broke you. Vonnegut is broken by the war and hanging onto it, because he was writing a book. The focus should be on the present and the future. The past is the past, and there is no going back. Moving on is the only step to be taken.


message 10: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian | 4 comments Katie wrote: "Throughout the novel you will notice the use of dark humor (also known as black humor). What does this show about human nature and what is the author trying to prove when he uses it?"

Only a few pages into the book, I can already tell the constant talk of war is ironic. I think it'd be interesting to find whether the author is trying to use black humor to make a statement about human nature or just war on it's own. I'm hoping that he will intertwine the two concepts, and seeing that the book is critically acclaimed, I'm guessing it definitely will.


Aniketh Bhat (mynameisaniketh) | 4 comments I have also been noticing his continuous use of dark humor, and think that the narrator is using it to shed a negative light on war itself. About Billy Pilgrim, I feel that he is using his story about the Tralfamadorians as a coping mechanism for his lack of control on his own life. He is trying to convince everyone that death, time, and free will are simply illusions sprung from the human mind.


Julie Wi (juliewi) | 6 comments Aniketh wrote: "I have also been noticing his continuous use of dark humor, and think that the narrator is using it to shed a negative light on war itself. About Billy Pilgrim, I feel that he is using his story ab..."

Yeah, I think his use of the Tralfamadorians is really interesting-- it probably is a coping mechanism, because he's mentioned that a lot of people around him have died. If what the aliens said are true, if time isn't real and a person never dies for good, then Billy would be able to cope with the death of so many people without going completely insane.

Sidenote: I also really really like the metaphor on page 20 about the pillar of salt-- because he "looked back", or sympathized with the people killed, he's no longer able to function normally in society.

"This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt"
I'm not sure if this is an example of black humor like you guys are talking about, but it made me laugh and also made me sad at the same time. The book is a "failure" like he said because he can't really explain or make sense out of anything that happened, but the book simply reveals the emotionally destructive effects of war. Like a glacier, war can't be stopped; but war books aren't written to stop wars, they're written to tell honest stories about humans in the most tragic conditions.


message 13: by Anay (new)

Anay Patel | 4 comments Aniketh wrote: "I have also been noticing his continuous use of dark humor, and think that the narrator is using it to shed a negative light on war itself. About Billy Pilgrim, I feel that he is using his story ab..."

I agree that this book looks at war and things in general with dark humor and satire. For example, the "irony" of the death Edgar Derby - he survives the firebombing of Dresden, but then gets executed for stealing a teapot from the remains of the city. I believe by doing this, Vonnegut is trying to show that there truly is no glory in war, and that the majority of the fighting is just stupidity.

For the Tralfamadorians, I'm not sure whether or not it has to do with Billy's coping mechanism, or perhaps Vonnegut's message about how Billy must cope with war and the light in which Vonnegut wants to portray war.


Alexis Lopez | 5 comments Keep in mind that the novel itself is satire and a criticism on traditional war books, how does his tone emphasize this?


Julie Wi (juliewi) | 6 comments Alexis wrote: "Keep in mind that the novel itself is satire and a criticism on traditional war books, how does his tone emphasize this?"

Actually right now I'm finding it difficult to pin down in what ways he uses satire and what it means. As far as it being a criticism on other war books, I think his message is that other books that try to explain or interpret war in an intelligent way are bound to fail, because there are so many things about war that are absurd and unable to be explained.

I know that in the book Billy uses humor to talk about things that aren't actually funny, and uses biblical allusions which is really odd for a war book. The story is also intentionally choppy and disorganized, and the fact the narrator is describing his own life in the third person I think contributes to the satire of the book.

With that being said I think these things all make the book satirical because he's telling the same story as so many other war books but in such an unconventional way. It's like he's making fun of war stories by trying to make one and utterly failing at doing it "right".


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