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Comparing the Historical Context of Slaughterhouse-5 and Catch-22

In: Novels

Submitted By pirigo98
Words 600
Pages 3
Although ironic, the stories from anti-war novels tend to be set around war zones or environments, with characters whose lives somehow revolve around a specific period of warfare. This is the case in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5 and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Their respective main characters, Billy Pilgrim and John Yossarian, are differently characterized, but their objective as soldier fighting for the United States in World War II is the same. They are located in abundantly different regions, Billy in Dresden, Germany, while Yossarian finds himself in the Italian island of Pianosa. To ironically display the theme of anti-war, Slaughterhouse-5 accurately represents a marking event in world history taken from actual experiences while Catch-22 presents a real location but with fictitious events.
Slaughterhouse-5’s story is mainly focused around Billy’s experience during his time spent in Dresden as a prisoner of the Germans. Dresden is known for its cultural and artistic splendor, with churches (such as the Frauenkirche), concert halls and gardens which contribute to its fame. In the novel, the American soldiers were transported to the city by foot and later by train to finally reach Schlachthof-fünf, German for slaughterhouse five. The bombing is foreshadowed many times before its actual execution in the novel, and at one point even directly contradicted by an Englishman before the departure: “You needn't worry about bombs, by the way. Dresden is an open city. It is undefended, and contains no war industries or troop concentrations of any importance” (Kurt Vonnegut 186). The bombing took place in February of 1945 when American allies dropped about four-thousand tons of explosives on the city’s center, forming a fierce fire storm that massacred thousands of acres. In the book, the aftermath is even referred to as looking “like the surface of the moon” (Vonnegut…...

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