Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Slaughterhouse-Five: Plot Summary
Slaughterhouse-Five: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Slaughterhouse-Five: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Kurt Vonnegut
Historical Context of Slaughterhouse-Five
Other Books Related to Slaughterhouse-Five
- Full Title: Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade, a Duty-Dance with Death
- When Written: 1968
- Where Written: Iowa City, IA
- When Published: 1969
- Literary Period: Contemporary and postmodern American fiction
- Genre: Postmodern novel, comic novel, science fiction
- Setting: Germany during World War II; Ilium, New York, in the 1950s and 1960s
- Climax: Billy Pilgrim and his fellow POWs gather underneath Slaughterhouse-Five during the Allied attack on Dresden and survive the firebombing
- Antagonist: Roland Weary, Paul Lazzaro
- Point of View: Third-person omniscient, with frequent intrusions by the author/narrator, Kurt Vonnegut
Extra Credit for Slaughterhouse-Five
Self-reference. Slaughterhouse-Five includes another feature often associated with postmodern fiction: self-reference, or the acknowledgment of the book’s fiction as the book takes place. Vonnegut uses self-reference throughout the novel to call into question the truth of his and Billy Pilgrim’s report of the Dresden bombings. The technique helps to decrease the distance between the author, protagonist, and reader.
Continued popularity. Vonnegut’s books continue to be read in the United States and around the world, often, first, by young people. Vonnegut was concerned with the critical reception of his novels—he did not want to be considered strictly a “young person’s” novelist, nor a “science fiction writer.” But it is the blend of all these elements that make his voice distinctive and exciting.