How Has Slaughterhouse Five Borrowed From Biblical Texts To Address Issues Of War?

979 words - 4 pages

In the anti-war novel Slaughterhouse five, we follow Billy Pilgrim in his travel through time. Slaughterhouse five is narrated in the style of the Christian Bible where we have the creation, the man’s fall, the crucifixion and the resurrection. Kurt Vonnegut addresses the issues of war and its destructiveness through the use biblical stories such as Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and the pillar of salt in order to find meaning to his and Billy Pilgrim’s life.
One of the first biblical stories used by Vonnegut is the story of Lot’s wife, which is mentioned in the Genesis and the New Testament. She is forced to leave the town of Sodom with her family after being threatened by the ...view middle of the document...

Campbell tries to convince American soldiers to join the Nazi force by promising “food” and to be “repatriated through Switzerland” once the Russians lost. Just like the snake that brought Adam and Eve to their downfall, Campbell is doing the same to the American soldiers by tricking them by offering ’better’ conditions of living. Vonnegut included this passage in order for the reader to grasp the importance of such rare moment that is someone standing up to a superior authority.
In Slaughterhouse five, Vonnegut compares his characters to the story of Eden. In chapter three, a German corporal wearing a pair of golden cavalry boots claims that “if you look in there deeply enough, you’ll see Adam and Eve”. As Billy Pilgrim is waiting he “stared into the patina of the corporal’s boots, saw Adam and Eve in the golden depths, they were naked. They were so innocent, so vulnerable, so eager to behave decently” (p.67-68). By creating this moment, Vonnegut shows the reader that even if the normal linear time frame of a novel should push the characters to evolve, Billy’s nonlinear time frame that he seems to have, is looking backwards to Adam and Eve hence letting the reader understand his eagerness in pursuing innocence and the idea of an orderly world where people want “to behave decently”. It represents his deepest wish at this point in time, as well as comprehending that men like Billy Pilgrim and Corporal Campbell are not at peace in their mind because they are always after knowledge and perpetually try to learn more. This relates once again to Adam and Eve that have lost peace and the Garden of Eden because of the similar thirst of knowledge. We can start to understand that his...

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