International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278


So it goes: A postmodernist reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

Fatma Khalil Mostafa el Diwany
  • Fatma Khalil Mostafa el Diwany
  • Misr University for Science and Technology, Cairo- Egypt.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 18 December 2013
  •  Accepted: 24 April 2014
  •  Published: 30 June 2014


The paper offers a postmodernist reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five to verify the long-debated premise that postmodernism really departs from and even challenges the modernist philosophy. The state of epistemological skepticism that throws its shadows on our cognitive apparatus challenges the rationalist ideals; and the state of ontological uncertainty – both intratextually and extratextually – questions the claims of modernism as far as homogeneity, sound meaning and credible representation of the world are concerned. The focal point of this paper is examining Vonnegut’s concretization of the postmodernist theory in writing “an anti-war book” based on his personal experience as a prisoner of war in the second world war. Vonnegut has attempted to blend this serious theme in Slaughterhouse-Five with science fiction and humor. Through the choice of his protagonist – Billy Pilgrim – and the manipulation of various postmodernist techniques, Vonnegut exposes the atrocities of wars by uncovering the heroic façade by which nations mask their real intentions in launching wars, and manifests the moral vacuum that characterizes postwar western societies.
Key words: Postmodernism, American novel, anti-war literature, Vonnegut.