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thinking points SH5

Page history last edited by Michelle Lampinen 7 years, 10 months ago


Here are some things to keep in mind as you start reading Slaughterhouse-Five (SH5). 


Chapter 1-

  • What is the effect of Vonnegut's use of metafiction?
    • metafiction: fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes artificiality or literariness of a work (in other words, it's when Vonnegut uses himself as a character in the novel)
  • Why would he spend the entire first chapter talking about the book before the story even starts?
  • What motifs are you seeing already? How does Vonnegut develop these motifs?
  • How does the opening chapter prepare the reader for what's next?


Chapter 2-

  • What is the effect of the nonlinear chronology?
    • nonlinear chronology: events do not go in chronological order 
  • Billy Pilgrim travels to many different times and places. Does this confuse you? If so, how are you working through that confusion?
  • Why wouldn't Vonnegut just tell the story in chronological order? 


Chapters 3-5-

  • How does KV describe a Tralfamadorian novel, and how is SH5 told in a similar manner?
  • How does Vonnegut employ dark humor to tell this story of war?
  • Why is it funny when Vonnegut puts Kilgore Trout down?
  • Where do you see the theme of a common humanity developing?  


Throughout the novel, pay attention to Vonnegut's tone. He's probably the most sarcastic/dry of all the authors we'll read, and often students miss that. When is Vonnegut being serious? Facetious? Sarcastic? Cynical? Hilarious? (hint: he's always hilarious) :)


Other things to look for, not necessarily organized by chapter:


  • Significance of character names 
  • So it goes
  • birds
  • dogs 
  • time/clocks
  • WHY?
  • war/peace
  • human beings
  • sleep/wakefulness
  • feet
  • tralfamadore
  • Milky Way/Three Musketeers
  • importance of seemingly minor characters (hobo, Edgar Derby, Lazarro, etc.)
  • the idea of the absurd
  • the role of laughter in coping
  • Valencia vs. Montana
  • religious imagery 


Once you've finished reading the novel, I'm going to ask you to post one quote that you feel epitomizes the theme of the whole novel. Like if you could sum up Vonnegut's message in just one quote, which quote would that be? I don't want you to pick your quote until you're done with the whole book, but I wanted to tell you ahead of time so you can think about it as you read. Use sticky notes to mark pages that have some possibilities. 


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