Sunday, March 27, 2011

Slaughterhouse Five And the Big Question

This book is a hard one to analyze in relation to my big question. It has so many facets and interpretations. The point of the book is that no one really wins in a massacre. Its more of how not to be rather than what to do, which is very different from my first book, where the Greek hero was the ideal. The aliens only looked at the nice parts of life, skipping over the sad. Vonnegut does not want anyone to overlook the gruesome part of life, the massacre that was the "Children's Crusade" I suppose that Vonnegut would say that the way to overcome adversity is to face it. He did this in his life, writing numerous books on the bombing of Dresden, learning to face and explore what he had witnessed, then spreading it to the world. In "Slaughterhouse Five", Billy Pilgram escapes from the horror of what he witnessed by thoroughly believing in an imaginary planet, were he was mated with a beautiful women and only viewing the pretty side of life. Billy Pilgram did not overcome adversity. He ran from it, hid from it, and then it consumed his life and drove him crazy. Physically, yes he did overcome the massacre. Time dragged him through it, he was not a participant, only an unwilling and passive witness. His inability to face the tragedy led to his downward spiral. This is a book of what not to do. In order to overcome adversity, you must first face it.

Beloved and the Big Question

I've analyzed many books, vastly different from each other, each with widely different reasons for why the protaganist overcomes adversity. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison is a book that deserves to be in a catagory all its own. This has been my favorite book to read and analyze. There is one line from this book that sums up Toni Morrison's belief as to why some people overcome adversity. Paul D says to Sethe, "You are your own best thing." When a person internalizes this fact, like Denver and like Sethe, they will be able to overcome any adversity. As Denver is slowly forced out of the toxic relationship between Beloved and Sethe, she realizes that she has no one to protect or depend on except for herself. She goes out into the world and seeks help. She gets a job and becomes part of the community, overcoming the damage caused by her mother and by Beloved. She seeks the value in herself and that is what gives her freedom. Baby Suggs gives a powerful speech relating to self-love that directly relates. She tells her community, love your hands, your life-giving parts, your lungs, love your heart, because no one else is gonna love it for you. Once you love yourself, no one can overcome you. Sethe struggled to overcome the chains of the past, keeping herself in slavery of the mind. She did not consider herself her best thing. Her children alone had that honor and she would rather kill them than have them tanished by slavery. This horrible truth is what allows her to be open to the dreadfulness of Beloved, who feeds on Sethe's life. With no self -love, Sethe was trapped. This answer to my big question is the one that I believe in the most. I am in love with the idea of self -love and its power. Most human beings do not love their hands, lungs, heart. But I believe that this is something everyone must learn how to do.