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Representation of Toxic American Masculinity in Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut

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‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ is a science fiction novel written by Kurt Vonnegut. The author of this novel wrote about the bombing in Dresden during the World War II. The author of this novel witnessed as American Prisoner of War and he was able to survive by hiding in slaughterhouse. This novel has two narratives, first narrative specifies the Billy meeting with Roland weary and their capture by the Germans, their transfer to the POW camp and then to Dresden city. In the second narrative of novel, Billy Pilgrim travels through time, from his war experience to young age and from young age to his post-war experience and alien kidnapping. After reading the novel it is possible to analyze the characters of Bertram Copeland Rumfoord, Wild Bob, and Roland Weary as characters which represent the toxic American masculinity.

At the first, Bertram Copeland Rumfoord is a 70 years old Harvard professor. As he is older at age, but he is very energetic from his physical strength. “He had been honeymooning with his fifth wife when he broke his leg. Her name was Lily. Lily was twenty-three”. That phrases from the story clears the strength and masculinity of that man Rumerfoord. He has broken his leg in skiing accident in Vermont at the same time when the Billy has his plane crash. Both of them get injured and they are sharing same room in the hospital. Rumfoord worked on the history of the United States Army Corps in Second World War force and he is remarkably fascinated in investigating the raid in Dresden. When the Rumfoord and Billy are in hospital, Rumfoord cannot believes that Billy was actually there, and he thoughts Billy is just a useless waste of space. He considers the Billy as vegetable who is repeating what he has hears. The most crucial thing about the Rumfoord is that he is kind of superman: a respected Harvard Professor, author and an athletic who cannot deem that anyone could be pitiful as Billy who could have nothing to contribute to the world. At the end, he determines that Billy was possibly at the Dresden; still he had no interest to talk Billy about his experiences. He has mindset that bombing in Dresden was necessary even the Billy has said that was not required and he is repeating his opinion about the bombing repeatedly. He is overly suspicious about the bleeding hearts imitating that the air forces have done wrong thing by causing so many civilian deaths. He wants to celebrate the Dresden Bombing as “a howling success”.

Secondly, Wild Bob is American infantry colonel who loses his entire regiment in the World War II. Wild Bob meets Billy as a prisoner of the war. He is extremely sick, suffering from double pneumonia because of that disease he imagines Billy as member of his regiment and gives him a moving speech. He asked Billy about his outfit by saying “You are from the Four-fifty-First?” and Billy replied “Four-fifty-First what”. When the Billy replied to his question that he belongs to “infantry regiment”, he quoted out tearfully “It’s me boys! It’s Wild Bob!”. That are the words that he always to hear from his troops. This phrases from the novel examines that Wild bob wants to be Good leader and he has good leadership skills. Some of his words becomes refrain repeated in the novel, these words are “’If you’re ever in Cody, Wyoming, just ask for Wild Bob!’ I was there”. Something is terrible about the pointiness of Wild Bob in this novel as he is speaking his dying words to a boy who does not belong to his own regiment. His death in novel resembles that the big issues of the World War II- Nazis, fascism and anti-Semitism that have passed by the certain solders. Eventually, Roland Weary is eighteen years old American Solider and his childhood is unhappy that he has spent mostly in Pittsburgh. He meets Billy in Europe before being captured by the Germans. He is obsessed with becoming a great hero and he also obsesses over violence. When the Billy is in danger, Weary hopes that by saving Billy from danger he could gain his desired heroic status. Roland is mean, dominated with feeling of sufferings and unconfident about his unpopularity throughout his life, “He had been unpopular in Pittsburgh and always being ditched in Pittsburgh by people who did not want with him”. Roland weary is antisocial and bullying solider from his character. When two scouts lose their patience and leaves Billy and Weary behind, he blames Billy for this happening. Even when the Germans comes to them, Weary has pointed out his gun on the Billy. These traits in the novel shows the cruelness and meanness of his character. The Germans themselves are confused about that how one American ha pointed out his gun on other American in German Territory. Since his childhood, he has crazy, sexy and murderous relationship with the people and people usually beats him for his nature. Roland weary seems the war as an adventure and becomes happy because he did not want to alone anymore. Roland is forced to give his boots to the Nazi solider that he has wear for the war and makeshift clogs are given in return. That clogs cut his feet and he get gangrene (infection) and eventually he dies because of this infection. Before his death he asks someone kills to Billy because he blames for his situation, while Billy pitiful for his situation and feels sorry for him. Roland weary cruelness, dumbness and nastiness has shown clearly in the novel.

In conclusion, the characters of the novel Slaughterhouse-five, Bertram Copeland Rumfoord, Wild Bob, and Roland Weary has well represented the toxic American Masculinity. The character Copeland is older at age still more energetic and have young girlfriend, Bob wants to be good leader among his troops and Weary is so cruel, mean and wants heroism. The novel suspects the readers to figure out whatever is truth and what’s is science fiction that makes this writing more attentive to them.

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Representation Of Toxic American Masculinity In Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Representation Of Toxic American Masculinity In Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
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