Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

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Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was born on the eleventh day of November 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the grandson of the first licensed architect in Indiana, and the son of a wealthy architect. The Great Depression, however, left Vonnegut's father out of work and the wealth of the family soon diminished. It was at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis that Vonnegut gained his first writing experience. During his last two years there he wrote for and was one of the editors of the Shortridge Daily Echo. After graduating from Shortridge in 1940, Vonnegut headed for Cornell University. His father wanted him to study something that was solid and dependable, like science, so Vonnegut began his college career as a chemistry and biology major (Heller, 53).

While Vonnegut struggled in his chemistry and biology studies, he excelled as a columnist and managing editor for the Cornell Daily Sun. But by 1943 Vonnegut was on the verge of being asked to leave Cornell due to his lackluster academic performance. He beat Cornell to the punch by enlisting in the army. By this point Vonnegut's parents had given up on life, being unable to adjust to or accept the fact that they were no longer wealthy, world travellers. On May 14, 1944, his mother committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. His father was to remain a fairly isolated man the rest of his days, in full retreat from life, content to be in his own little world until his death on October 1, 1957.

On December 14, 1944, Vonnegut became a German prisoner of war after being captured in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to Dresden, an open city that produced no war machinery; thus it was off-limits to allied bombing. He and his fellow POW's were to work in a vitamin-syrup factory. On February 13, 1945, however, allied forces strafed Dresden, killing 135,000 unprotected civilians. Vonnegut and the other POW's survived the bombing as they waited it out deep in the cellar of a slaughterhouse, where they were quartered (Vonnegut, 24).

Vonnegut was repatriated on May 22, 1945, and on September first of that year he married Jane Marie Cox, a friend since kindergarten, for he thought, "'who but a wife would sleep with me?'" Vonnegut spent the next two years in Chicago, attending the University of Chicago as a graduate anthropology student, and working for the Chicago City News Bureau as a police reporter. When his master's thesis was rejected, he moved to Schenectedy, New York, to work as a publicist for General Electric. It was here that his fiction career began. On February 11, 1950, Collier's published Vonnegut's first short story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect." By the next year he was making enough money writing to quit his job at GE and move his family to West Barnstable, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. In 1952 his first novel, Player Piano, was published. By the time his next novel, The Sirens of Titan, was published in ...
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