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Topics Kurt Vonnegut Reading group. Science fiction books Fiction features. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? It seems he becomes more altruistic because he accepts a certain amount of anonymity in his final act of sacrifice. Let their names be Rosewater from this moment on. And tell them that their father loves them, no matter what they may turn out to be.

And tell them. Eliot becomes more altruistic as the novel progresses because he not only forgives himself but learns that he will never be able to change human nature; Eliot can only change himself.

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Eliot gave all he had to save himself; through his sense of personal responsibility toward his community, he experiences his own self-actualization. At the close of the novel, Eliot seems to have been reborn; he overcomes his past by giving up his millions. If one man can do it, perhaps others can do it, too.

It means that our hatred of useless human beings and the cruelties we inflict upon them for their own good need not be parts of human nature. Thanks to the example of Eliot Rosewater, millions upon millions of people may learn to love and help whomever they see. So, knowing this, why does Vonnegut write this novel? Richard Giannone suggests that Vonnegut, the witness, acts as a moral scout, smuggling himself across battle lines to reach the front of consciousness where he hopes to find final resistance to killing.

His moral awareness accounts for the uncommon affection for a cherished city of the declared enemy and for the German people themselves. They are presented as fellow human beings struggling against their own propensity for violence. Both political sides lost in the struggle for human decency. Vonnegut knows that Slaughterhouse-Five will be unlikely to instigate much social or political change, yet the novel does its best to promote the idea that we are responsible for our actions and that a greater acknowledgment of this culpability may influence the future for the better.

Yet, it offers hope, but this sense of hope is only brought about by the protagonist Billy Pilgrim, an individual who doubts popular opinion, thinks independently, and accepts personal responsibility in an otherwise desperate, indifferent world.

Slaughterhouse-Five Literature Analysis

Billy Pilgrim is depicted as extremely different from the other soldiers in the novel. Perhaps most importantly, Billy is depicted as different because he is a time traveler. Eight Dresden soldiers, who are apprehensive about having the hundred American prisoners see them in their dilapidated condition, see Billy and laugh.

There was nothing to be afraid of. When Billy is captured, he serves to reveal that war is often only about prejudice. Billy is the main character of this antiwar novel because he chooses to see differently.

Later in the novel, Billy is the sole survivor in an airplane crash. Throughout the novel, Billy commits many altruistic acts. So many of those souls were lost and wretched, Billy believed, because they could not see as well as his little green friends on Tralfamadore. He wants to show others how to manage in this hard world, and he believes teaching others about the Tralfamadorian philosophy will help people to cope. Vonnegut speaks out about the destruction and despair of this world, but he also offers hope through the ability of people to choose to view the positive moments in life.

In many ways this scene is the thematic climax of the novel.

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It is possible to suggest that the horses represent innocence, serving as a metaphor for all the living beings that were used to the point of death because of the inhumanity of men during wartime. Billy at this moment feels his personal accountability for this incident. Throughout the entire war, he is a man who floats in and out of consciousness and realities; but at this one moment, Billy realizes his own blame. He feels that he could have cared for the horses more than he did.

This scene imparts a message of the importance of personal responsibility in all situations.

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Kurt Vonnegut Scholarship | radical eyes for equity

From this point onwards, Billy is no longer aloof; instead of continuing to be a victim of circumstance, he learns the importance of altruism from this one incident. Rosewater, nor is he the doomed Howard W. Instead, Rabo falls somewhere in between these two poles. Vonnegut writes Bluebeard as if it were the memoir of Rabo. He served instead as an art collector for the Americans. After the war, he became a friend, and peer, of modern American expressionist painters, such as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and Terry Kitchen.


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His mother survived the attack by falling and pretending to be dead. As she lay there, she looked next to her, and in the mouth of an old, dead woman, there were jewels spilling out. Rabo grew up during the Depression and then went to work as an apprentice for an illustrator, who was famous for creating intensely realistic representations of items and scenes for many popular magazines.

Review Essay: Kurt Vonnegut among His Admirers

He fought in World War II, came home, got married, had two children, and attempted to become a famous painter; although his career was successful for a time, his paintings eventually faded to nothing. He also failed as a husband and a father. He saw most of his friends, the modern painters, commit suicide. He became a hermit, living in a potato barn behind the home of a rich woman, named Edith. I was a hermit for eight years.

How is that for a full-time job for a wounded vet? Edith saves him, invites him to move in with her, and becomes his second wife. She later dies, and he inherits her mansion. Rabo fails as a father and husband because of his experience in the war; he witnessed too much violence in the war to be able to live a conventional life.

He tries to be an artist to forget his pain. He is intoxicated most of the time. His wife begs him to become a family man and to give up trying to be a famous artist. He learns that she was right. Despite all the tragedy Rabo and those close to him have experienced, there are many small instances of kindness throughout the novel. She goes out into the potato barn and rescues him as if he were an injured animal. After he moves in with her, she asks him if he could be happy in such an old-fashioned house; he tells her not to change a thing, but she transforms the house into a modern gallery for Rabo because she knows that art may be his only salvation.

Another moment that is important for Rabo happens directly after he is set free. What a sight! Throughout the book, Rabo has been hiding something in the potato barn where he used to live. There is a war story to go with every figure in the picture, no matter how small. It is significant that the gigantic canvas that Rabo uses for the picture is recycled from his most famous piece of work, a painting that had previously hung in the lobby of the GEFFCo headquarters, but had been returned to him because all the paint had faded until there was nothing but a perfectly blank canvas.

Instead of his former desire to make paintings that will last and carry forth his name to future generations, Rabo realizes that all that matters in life is giving something to others. This adds to his newfound understanding of the importance of sharing, as Rabo allows the people that view the painting to make up their own stories for each individual rather than prescribing a single narrative. Rabo learns to accept who he is and what he did. Just as the Tralfamadorians teach Billy Pilgrim to do in Slaughterhouse Five, he chooses to view life in positive terms.

He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth seems to him neither sterile nor futile.


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  5. Sisyphus, like Rabo, finds moments in life in which he is conscious of a good and purely beautiful quality to existence. The fact that he painted, in such detail, this experience, is a form of giving. As Jerome Klinkowitz and Donald L. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. Recognizing that within each individual being. This recognition thus becomes a key to behaving towards others with humaneness.