Oh man, I am probably the BIGGEST Vonnegut gerbil here. I have read every
one of his books except Hocus Pocus, his autobiography Fates Worse Than Death
, and Palm Sunday
. That is to say, I've pretty much read everything that he produced that is pure fiction, with the notable exception of Hocus Pocus (An equally enthusiastic friend of mine read that book and said that the protagonist was extra-sleazy.
I envy you if you are writing a thesis on Slaughter-House Five: The Children's Crusade, but all in all I don't think it's his best book. Slaughter-House Five might've been his 5th or 6th... lemme check wiki... yup 6th.
After reading the book, I certainly have a few notions about why it came to be more popular than his other books.
First off, Vonnegut was one of the extremely select
people to have survived the bombing of Dresden, and the only first-hand survivor to have written it (for more on the subject, and for evidence of how much it had effected him, read
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.) I don't think saying "war is bad" would be enough in a thesis. Duh, war *is* bad, but you should note that most people gloss over the fact of who
is dropping those bombs. Also, you should note that he points out that Dresden is of little strategic value to the Allied Forces, and is mostly full of the Arts. I would say that while Free Will is certainly a theme of many in Slaughterhouse-Five, *most* of his book put Free Will to the test. For better examples on the tragedy or illusion of Free Will, read the superb The Sirens of Titan or Cat's Cradle.
You might get disciplinary action for taking on what I'm about to suggest, and this thread might get locked or moved to R&P, but after some careful thought about Slaughterhouse-Five I'm willing to suggest that perhaps the quality of the book has nothing to do with its success. You should probably examine the political climate when that book came out. Why
did it become required reading in highschools? It was even banned in a few particular school districts for use of the f-word (embarrassingly, *my* school district is one of those, although long before I was attending, and it had since lifted of course. They now have it in their curriculum
). Now, we're taught exhaustively
throughout our school curriculum but also in our movies and games the horror of the Holocaust and the PURE EVIL that is Nazis. I think it's possible that Slaughterhouse-Five was simply picked up as a small cog in the huge clockwork that is the anti-holocaust propaganda machine. I'm *not* suggesting the holocaust didn't
happen. I'm suggesting that shoving it in our face so many times gives Israel a free pass to do the things they're doing today, or otherwise for Americans to (hypocritically) look the other way when bad things happen to Middle Easterners and in particular the Palestinians.
It's a bit of a stretch, and if you're going to take it on be prepared for *a lot* of resistance, but sometimes genius is controversial. Also, you can't, CAN'T half-ass it if your going to take that idea. You have to read up on things like Israel's territorial history, the Iran-Iraq war, etc.
In other words, I just gave you a bum apple and you're still going to have to work if you want applesauce. It's just a start.
Nazi Grammar Edit: their ≠ they're
Also, Godwin's Law in about 5 seconds...