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When one begins to analyze a military novel it is important to first look at the historical context in which the book was written On the nights of February 13-14 in 1944 the city of Dresden Germany was subjected to one of the worst air attacks in the history of man By the end of the bombing 135000 to 250000 people had been killed by the combined forces of the United States and the United Kingdom Dresden was different then Berlin or many of the other military targets which were attacked during World War II because it was never fortified or used for strategic purposes and therefore was not considered a military target Because of its apparent safety thousands of refugees from all over Europe converged on Dresden for protection Klinkowitz 2-3 Dresdens neutrality was broken and the resulting attacks laid waste what Vonnegut called the Florence of the Elbe Kurt Vonnegut was a witness to this event and because of fate had been spared He wrote Slaughterhouse Five to answer the question that resounded through his head long after the bombs could no longer be heard Why me- a frequent question asked by survivors of warVonnegut was tormented by this question and through Billy Pilgrim the protagonist in Slaughterhouse Five he attempts to reconcile the guilt which one feels when one is randomly saved from death while ones friends and loved ones perish Billy Pilgrims own life was spared but was never able to live with himself knowing that so many others had died The feelings of guilt which emerged from his having survived the bombing of Dresden and from Billys fortunate escape from death under the shelter of the fifth Slaughterhouse haunted Billy through much of his life Billy Pilgrim did not consider his survival a blessing but a curse A curse to be forced to live on with the guilt of survival Billy Pilgrim faced such tremendous guilt that he spent his
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