Slaughterhouse Five

The Mayflower of Life

"Fate: 'what has been spoken,' a power beyond men's control that is held to determine what happens" (Webster's Intermediate Dictionary 270).

Everywhere in the world, people attribute events to fate because of the belief that one has no control over one's own life. People freely donate their lives to destiny because they believe life will happen according to a master plan, and they cannot help what happens to them. Therefore they do not try to change their life's path. In literature, authors have often discussed this master plan in the medium of fate versus free will. Some authors support a fatalistic perspective, others promote free will. One of the writers who has mulled greatly upon this topic is Kurt Vonnegut. Among the many devices used by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, to support the side of a world ruled entirely by fate are setting, structure, and allusion.

One tool used in Slaughterhouse-Five to promote a fatalistic view is setting. Vonnegut often creates premonitions of fate by making connections between the environments of different time periods during the life of his main character, Billy Pilgrim. The author can create fear or happiness or an impending sense of doom...

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