Slaughterhouse 5

Throughout the decades of the sixties and seventies, Kurt Vonnegutís work was immensely popular, particularly on college campuses. Slaughterhouse 5 was published in 1969, the year after LBJ refused to run for reelection and the year that Nixon proposed the plan called Vietnamization. It was the year of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the Woodstock inauguration of the "summer of love". Lt. William Calley was charged with murder for My Lai massacre and outrage brewed over thalidomide babies. Vonnegut's references to impoliteness, sexual matters, American history, famous heroes, his commentaries about the distribution of wealth, about school, about time, about everything, struck a cord with those perpetuating the social and cultural upheaval of the decade that encompassed the novel's publication. When does your character read it? Why? Answer the following questions from your character's perspective.

  • What are your thoughts and questions about the book? Reflect upon the characters, their problems, the title or other ideas in the story. (Respond by writing a journal entry)
  • With which characters, event or events in the story can you most closely relate? What are your favorite (or most the significant) quotes from the story? Why are they your favorites? How do the quotes relate to each other? To what is happening in the world around you? Explain what you think the quotations mean as they relate to elements of the story such as the characters or the theme. (Respond to this by writing a "review" for your community, base, factory or camp newsletter or newspaper)
  • What is a good book? Is this one? Did you like this book? What qualities does it have that make it effective or ineffective for you as a reader? (Respond to this question by writing a letter to your friend)