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Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five as an Example of Postmodern Literature

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Postmodernism emerged after modernism. This term is used to refer to a period in history. But it is also used to refer to a series of ideas in history. Postmodernism is a thought movement that emerged in America and then in Europe after World War II. Postmodernism, in literature, refers to both the reality and the other side of the imagination, and the other faces of being and phenomena. Literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, is a general and comprehensive term applied among others. It is largely a reaction to the scientifically or objectively considered certainty of truth-clarification efforts. The term is associated with skepticism, irony, and philosophical criticism of the concepts of universal truths and objective reality. Postmodern literature is a form of literature marked by literary rules such as fragmentation, paradox, unreliable narratives, unrealistic and impossible images, games, parody, paranoia, black humor and authoritarian self, both in style and ideologically. There is no absolute truth. The true concept is believed to be a controversial illusion, misused by people and special interest groups to gain power over others. For them, morality is personal. To believe that ethics is relative, postmodernists subject morality to personal opinion. They have defined each individual’s special code of ethics without having to follow the traditional values and rules. Characteristic of postmodern literature, meta-fiction, interest in other cultures, fragmentariness, experimentalism, magic realism, technoculture, reader-response and text plurality, subjectivism, skepticism, organic structure, pastiche, psychology. Slaughterhouse-Five written by Kurt Vonnegut is one example of postmodernism.

Slaughterhouse-Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut, published during the Vietnam War period, features the characteristics of postmodernism. One of the postmodern features used in Slaughterhouse Five is fragmentation. As a postmodern writer, Vonnegut uses the fragmentation very well. Through this technique, the author shows the anti-war feeling. The author depicts Billy as a fragmented character. The author showed the time as fragmented. In the Slaughterhouse Five, the author shows the fragmented nature of his text. Due to the fragmentation of time is no past, present, or future time. In this text, the narrative style is also fragmented. Non-linear narratives were used to tell the story. This means that there is no beginning, no middle and no end.

The story begins in the middle of the story, returning to the beginning of the story. The main character Billy is a fragmented character. He has no control over his time travel. Although he said he could see the past and the future through time travel, all the events were hallucinated. Flashback and flash forward, a narrative technique was used. Flashback is a technique in which the author demonstrations us the events in Billy’s life. The author shows the current time and then shows the time past. The author used Slaughterhouse Five meta-fiction. For example, the first and last sections are Vonnegut talking directly to the reader. The author used irony in the novel. Vonnegut has shown a lot of irony in this text. For example He is the assistant of a priest, he cannot help his friends nor harm enemies. It looks ironic because he needs to help his friends normally in the war, and as a doctor, he has to help the wounded. Another irony is Billy, Weary, and two cynical men lost in the snow forest. Then he leaves two scouts Billy and Weary behind because they think Billy and Weary will put them in danger. But ironically, both of them were shot and killed, even though they had more military knowledge than Billy and Weary.

Kurt Vonnegut used the dark humor and irony in Slaughterhouse Five. The novel enables the reader to understand the horrors of war while at the same time laughing at some of the absurd circumstances it can create. For the most part, Vonnegut wants the reader to recognize the fact that he has to accept something as it is because nobody can change the inevitable. The effect of postmodernism on Slaughterhouse Five is evident in the form of questioning both the subjectivity and the comparison of the narrator’s omnipotent powers. Tralfamadorians are foreign creatures with powers. The narrator has shown how subjective storytelling is. The narrator reminded the reader that time and again the novel was a work of fiction and staging. The Tralfamadorians reflected the narrator’s ability to read minds and travel in time and space. Billy Pilgrim, on the other hand, lost control of time perception. His life and the structure of the narrative show fragmentation. The absurd and ironic humor that the author used to describe Billy’s life, in his novel, he contrasted historical accounts of ‘official’ history as historical meta-fiction. The novel does not end with a good victory against evil, and Billy Pilgrim has not found clarity about why this is all. There is no defined morality for humanity or others, but the author leaves the reader with a postmodern and pragmatic view of the horrors of humanity. In the novel, the abduction of Billy Tralfamadorians is described as magic realism.

As a result, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, published during the Vietnam War period, transmits all the basic features of postmodernism. In the novel, the author presents the only way out of the dark humor of the idea of the meaningless, rotten world. This novel, with traces of Vonnegut’s memories of the Second World War, is the story of Billy Pilgrim, who has a travel problem at the time, who cannot stay at the ‘now’. Billy goes back and forth, and Billy eventually realizes that he must concentrate on good things instead of bad things. Slaughterhouse-Five is a didactic or anti-war novel as well as science fiction or apocalypse. It has aroused various reactions and emotions in readers. Postmodern features used in the novel, magic realism, historiographical meta-fiction, meta-fiction, irony, parody, black humor.

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five As An Example Of Postmodern Literature. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five-as-an-example-of-postmodern-literature/
“Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five As An Example Of Postmodern Literature.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five-as-an-example-of-postmodern-literature/
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five As An Example Of Postmodern Literature. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five-as-an-example-of-postmodern-literature/> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five As An Example Of Postmodern Literature [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2021 Jul 24]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five-as-an-example-of-postmodern-literature/
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