.. he landed a contract with the Germansto bomb his own outfit (Heller 267). The whole base was destroyed; Milo was forgiven soon after the bombing because he told the soldiers how much money he had made for them. After reading this section one is appalled at the inhumanity exhibited by the characters in the book. The theme of inhumanity is evident throughout the rest of the book; many of the characters display this theme through their inhumane actions.
The anti-war theme in the book Catch-22 is perpetuated by the satiric lack of rationality all the characters, except for Yossarian, have. Yossarian is one of the few sane people in the book. Throughout the book, the repetition of ridiculous events by the characters promotes the anti-war theme by making war seem absurd. The irrational happenings in Catch-22 are obvious, whether it is when Yossarian is offered to go home with a bundle of medals he has not earned, or when Milo trades away all the parachutes in a business deal. Milo trades all the bombardiers parachutes away for other goods; he justifies his actions by saying, not to worry, theyll be rich by the end of the war (Napierkowski 96).
Milo is an economic mastermind; he uses his position to buy sell and trade goods and services. He turns the army into a corporation, M & M Enterprisesright before their eyes he had transformed his syndicate into an international cartel (Heller 264). The exchange between Yossarian and Doc Daneeka is an example of the humorous repetitive structure used by Heller. Yossarian tries to get out of going on any more dangerous bombing missions by getting the doctor to ground him as unfit for flying (Muir 970). Yossarians circular conversation with Doc Daneeka concerning his craziness for flying missions is humorous and absurd. As Yossarian learns by trying to get the airbase doctor to ground him as unfit for flying, there is a catch: In the Air Force Medical Rule Book, it is called Catch-22Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. Thats some catch, that Catch-22, he observed. Its the best catch there is, Doc Daneeka agreed (Muir 970-971).
There is an abundance of the events in Catch-22, which are quite irrational. It is the repetition of these events that helps portray the anti-war theme. Kurt Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five does not portray an anti-war theme as well as Night or Catch-22. The latter two books are successful in conveying their anti-war themes. The colorful autobiography of Wiesel and the satirical humor in Catch-22 more effectively portray the obscenities of war than Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five.
Slaughterhouse-Five is fictional and not written with many shocking, colorful descriptions of atrocities, which occurred during WWII as Elie Wiesels Night. The science fiction parts of the book are over emphasized. One does not get a truthful account of the happenings of WWII from Slaughterhouse-Five. The Tralfamadorians science fiction aspects of the novel dull the anti-war theme. Their beliefs coerce Billy to forget about the war; the Tralfamadorians tell Billy, one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones (Vonnegut 117). They also tell Billy, we spend eternity looking at pleasant moments; they cannot do anything about the awful times, so they ignore them (Vonnegut 117).
The climax of the novel is the fire bombing of Dresden; the reader is aware of this from the start, it is stated in the first chapter. The description of the bombing it is short; one could almost miss it. Billy does not travel back to the event nor does he re-live it, like he does many other less important events. The books climax is supposed to be the fire bombing of Dresden; all the reader is given is three pages about the whole event, without any description of the bombing itself. For among its (Slaughterhouse-Fives) fifty thousand words the reader will not find a single description of the bombing. Throughout the book we know it is coming, for Vonnegut has introduced the topic on the novels second page, we know it has happened within the structure of the book, because its final chapter ends with the author and his created characters working in the ruins.
But the historical events that transpired on the night of 13-14 February 1945 are nowhere to be found in Slaughterhouse-Five (Klinkowitz 44-45). One feels let down after reading Slaughterhouse-Five. The back cover of the book says, Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the worlds greatest anti-war books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden giving the reader a false perception of what the book is about (Cover Review). Slaughterhouse-Five has been glorified as an anti-war novel. It does not send as harsh an anti-war message as Elie Wiesel delivers in Night.
Slaughterhouse-Five, the odyssey of Billy Pilgrams life as he travels backwards and forwards before and after WWII, has a less compelling anti-war theme that that of Catch-22. Scattered throughout the story of Billy Pilgrims capture and incarceration, are narrative episodes from his life, both before and after the war. The random unorganized technique Vonnegut uses muffles the anti-war theme. Some scenes become so jumbled that they seem to have no cause or effect. Many of the events and concepts from the book are hard to understand because they are not written in chronological order.
The transition from chapter to chapter is hard to follow. Vonnegut even warns us of this on the title page by stating, This is a novel somewhat in theschizophrenic manner of tales, meaning that it is jumbled and in no particular order. This makes for a tough book to read and understand. One must read all the way through the book, then put the events in a chronological order in order for them to make sense. In conclusion, the moral and social dilemmas of anti-war are more effectively depicted in the autobiographical form used by Elie Wiesel in Night and the form of satirical humor used by Joseph Heller in Catch-22, than the science fiction form used by Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five. Elie Wiesels autobiographical account of the Holocaust during WWII depicts an emotional anti-war theme.
Wiesel hopes the imagery, the graphic descriptions, and the horror of the Holocaust will serve as a shield against evil. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 shows how war brings out the worst in people. The satirical humor is used to convey the seriousness of the anti-war message. Slaughterhouse-Five is Kurt Vonneguts attempt at the examination of WWII. The science fiction form muffled the anti-war message. All three of these books have anti-war themes; some literary forms worked better in conveying their ideas than others.
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