It goes without saying that a literary text cannot be understood without its historical, social and cultural contexts. By using additional material it is possible for the foreign language teacher to influence the context of textual analysis to a considerable extent. What the implications for classroom procedure may be in the case of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has been shown in the following contribution by Britta Zimmermann.
II. Additional material for a teaching unit
While the field of (creative) methods applicable to the basic literary forms dealt with in school is satisfactorily covered by advice from Brusch, Caspari, and Pulm, hardly anybody seems to notice the lack of appropriate instructions concerning how to treat non-literary texts practically in a way that arouses the students’ interest(2). Authors and editors either seem to be ignorant of the problem that concrete suggestions and adaptable bases are missing or lack in suggesting various didactic procedures that gratify the students’ need to contribute to foreign language lessons and train all of the four basic skills mentioned in the guidelines, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking(3). Nonetheless, almost every didactician is likely to agree with the teaching objectives that are summarised in the book How to Analyse and Teach Non-Literary Texts:
The global teaching objectives for students in higher education are the ability to describe non-literary texts and to incorporate elements of the language in their own written production. More detailed objectives are derived from the communication situation peculiar to non-literary texts:
(i) Insights into the communication situation determining every non-literary text.
(ii) The knowledge of and ability to assess strategies for encoding non-literary texts.
(iii) The ability to differentiate between various types of non-literary texts and a knowledge of their characteristic features(4).
Apart from the necessity that the additional material should contribute to achieving these teaching objectives, the choice of texts depends on the question which topics treated in the novel Slaughterhouse-Five appeal to the students’ lives as well as on the decision whether the texts are appropriate to discuss in class, that is, whether their diction is lexically and syntactically adequate and whether they offer opportunities for student-centred activities(5). Finally, the choice has mainly been influenced by the decision if the text satisfies the requirement for authenticity as this is said to be of great importance in class(6). The different suggestions for classroom procedure proposed in this paper are calculated to last about two or three lessons each. It applies to all of the texts that in exceptional cases the course should be allowed to fall back on the German language so as not to minimise the participants’ willingness to cope with the topic by a language barrier.
a circuit court judge in Oakland county, Michigan, advised Rochester High School to ban a book [Slaughterhouse-Five] approved by school officials — else he would order the book banned himself ... Moore [the judge] handed down his decision after the father of a student brought suit against the high school, charging that the book is antireligious(7).
The writer’s reaction to the banning is unknown. Containing a register apparently inadequate for students, thirty copies of Vonnegut’s novel were burnt in a high school in Drake, North Dakota, at the instance of the official school committee approximately two years later. As a reaction Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to the head of the school, which was published years after the destruction(8). On reflection two questions strike the reader: Why does Vonnegut feel insulted when learning about the incident in Drake? With regard to the incidents in Oakland and Drake, are there any special circumstances that justify his different reactions? His letter to the school headmaster offers answers to that.
All arguments Vonnegut gives in fact closely refer to the social and political function he ascribes to himself as a writer and as a member of American society. As the words “American” and “civilisation” are repeated etymologically and semantically, the question arises which definition of being “a good citizen”(9) and of behaving in an “ignorant, harsh, un-American manner”(10) - as he accuses the school committee to have done - serves as a basis for his discussion. Vonnegut’s understanding of a patriotic American is not based upon the widely-spread assumption that citizens have to fight for their country actively. As the title of the essay in which the letter was published says, Vonnegut refers to a definition of the expression “American” in the most original meaning of the word, which is implied in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”(11).
From the critical statement Vonnegut makes in the essay “The First Amendment”, namely that the freedom of speech in America is restricted frequently, you can infer that he sees the unalienable right of liberty violated in two respects here(12): for one thing, the prohibition of reading a book means a restriction of the students’ freedom; for another, the burning of the novel Slaughterhouse-Five means a violation of the basic principles of the United States, since Vonnegut is not permitted to allow the students access to his ideas, and hence, his personal freedom of speech is considerably restricted. From these two aspects he draws the conclusion: “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own(13).”
It is the personal style that shows how much the writer has internalised the duty of an American citizen. Apart from the frequent trivial syntax and the simple register, which both on the fictional and on the non-fictional level function as a means of reaching a wide audience, he constantly uses personal pronouns of the first person singular, which prove how much he considers himself involved in the task to defend the ideas of the Declaration of Independence(14). Simultaneously, with regard to the following quotation from an interview, it becomes clear why the burning of his novel turns out to be a personal insult: “I agree with Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini that the writer should serve his society. ... Mainly, I think they should be – and biologically have to be – agents of change(15).”
While writing appears to be a predestination in order to make the national and international societies aware of deplorable states of affairs, the school board committee challenges not only Vonnegut’s professional function but also a part of his individual and private sphere, as it is directly connected to the professional one. This interdependence becomes clear by his complaint to the headmaster that the incident shows “that books and writers are very unreal to you people(16).” While the intention Vonnegut tries to convey with the help of his texts is ignored, and therefore, the validity of his thoughts and his person is, generally speaking, denied by the act of burning his work, in outlining his biography, in emphasising his indifference to prosperity, and in mentioning his dealings with youngsters, he tries to explain the seriousness of his intention(17). However, due to the fact that the school committee obviously have not read the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, the thesis the writer puts forward in the novel, namely the thesis of his book being useless, is revealed as true once again(18). Consequently, it is almost impossible to break through the chain of ignorance, the lack of responsibility, and the ambition to become powerful. The burning in Drake thus confirms the pessimism the writer gives expression to in the address to the graduating class at Bennington College in 1970, in which he makes the Second World War and Hiroshima responsible for his negative attitude:
“Hey, Corporal Vonnegut,” I said to myself, “maybe you were wrong to be an optimist. Maybe pessimism is the thing.” I have been a consistent pessimist ever since ... My wife begged me to bring you light, but there is no light. Everything is going to become unimaginably worse, and never get better again(19).
Besides the aspects set out above, it verges on the absurd that a text with its central theme World War Two has to bear what German as well as foreign literature had to endure on May 10th, 1933, before the Second World War broke out, namely the burning of books as a demonstration of power. Donald Veix speculates:
Slaughterhouse Five, like great satires, holds a mirror up to our society and the image is repulsive. We are Americans in the book, but we are also Germans and Western man ... Perhaps censors sense (!) the subtle criticisms but find the dirty words and explicit sexual references easier targets towards which to rally the book burners. Attacking the subtleties might be an admission that flaws really exist(20).
Certainly Vonnegut had the same idea when learning that his book was burnt. The action probably recalled the burning in 1933 and the “Feuersprüche”, which were supposed to justify the action as well as, from the school committee’s point of view, might have been supposed to justify the burning in Drake in parts(21). As a pessimist and an “alarm system [ ]”(22) for society, Kurt Vonnegut was induced to write the letter by his recollection and his inevitable aversion against war so as to make the citizens of Drake aware of possible consequences of their action.
First of all, in addition to mentioning Vonnegut’s exemplary function in the 1970s, the teacher should inform the class about the fact that Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five - besides other literature - was not only banned from schools in the seventies but also takes 28th place in the list of the most frequently banned books in the 1990s(23). According to Lothar Bredella, in formulating spontaneous reactions and speculations about supposed arguments for and against censoring the novel, the students have now the chance to resume their previous knowledge, to seek for possible reasons for the banning with the help of the novel, and to become aware of their own expectations(24). This can be carried out in a talk with the teacher as well as in small groups of three or four students, in which they may write down their reactions and thoughts on pieces of paper. Admittedly, Bredella confines the procedure of eliciting responses to the fictional text Slaughterhouse-Five, but it is also desirable, as Karl-Erhart Schuhmacher points out(25), when it comes to non-fictional texts.
Afterwards, the course participants are asked to read the text and to consult a dictionary in case of unknown vocabulary or structures as a homework task. In addition, the teacher should ask them to list up all arguments for and against the banning of the novel mentioned in Vonnegut’s letter in their own words. In doing so, the pupils basically have to tackle the structure, and, what is more, they have to face the question whether they have actually understood the text. If there are any difficulties left concerning the textual comprehension despite the rather simple vocabulary, the teacher should clarify the pupils’ problems to ensure the imperative foundation for an adequate discussion(26). While collecting the arguments on the board, the students have the chance to compare their expectations, that is, their speculations about possible reasons, to the actual arguments and to express spontaneous objections and counterarguments, which might be a useful basis for a later discussion.
As a next step the teacher should ask the students to identify the predominant world field by searching for conspicuous repetitions in order to familiarise the pupils with Vonnegut’s definition of being an American. After collecting the words in the letter that belong with the semantic field “America” on a transparency together in class, the students can draw a general conclusion concerning the question what Vonnegut considers to be “American” with the help of the quotation from the Declaration of Independence mentioned above. Thus, the basis for an absorbed discussion of Vonnegut’s understanding of what an American writer is is established simultaneously, as his definition of a true American is a precondition for his understanding of his role as an American author. In this context the students become aware of the fact that Vonnegut feels insulted, because he does not separate his professional life from his private life.
The students then have the opportunity to make use of the questions that have remained unanswered during the analysis of the letter with their classmates. Besides the didactic thesis that spontaneous oral abilities have to be supported, talking freely and tackling problems independently are considered to be of great importance in the syllabus guidelines(27). As a preparation for a simulated press-conference, the class members form groups that represent Kurt Vonnegut and his publisher, the school committee, the students of the high school in Drake, and the students’ parents(28). The participants who remain without a role can take over the journalists’ positions by thinking of reasonable questions that have not been answered in the letter, whereas another willing class member is asked to lead the discussion, that is, to ensure everybody’s right to set forth his or her view without being interrupted. The objection Werlich lodges with regard to such ways of proceeding, however, cannot be completely ignored:
Und was die freieren Gesprächsformen betrifft, von denen gesagt wird, hier erhöhe sich durch partnerschaftliche Arbeitsformen der Sprechanteil doch erheblich, so wird nicht bedacht, daß ein Schüler zum Gebrauch der Fremdsprache auch Vorbilder für die Rollenidentifikation braucht. Er braucht einen Gesprächspartner, der ihn sprachlich nach oben zieht(29).
Nevertheless, the aspect that this kind of lesson does not occur permanently in class as well as the fact that working in a small group of equal members provides the opportunity to overcome psychological blocking relativises Werlich’s objection. As to the problem of how to correct errors, Maria and Werner Kieweg suggest the teacher’s taking down common errors and confer on them together with all participants afterwards(30).In case of lexical problems, the teacher should offer the students help by encouraging them to paraphrase the missing expressions, by providing dictionaries for independent working, or, as a last resort, by writing the English equivalent on the board for everybody to see.
The mere use of the address “for you, my colleagues”(37) and the predominant use of the pronoun of the first person in the plural in the second part of the speech - in contrast to the accumulation of the non-directive pronoun of the third person plural in the preceding part - allow the listener to assume that Vonnegut distances himself from the opinion he pretends to hold first. While he denies his own person and his function in the foregoing part when he denies the effectiveness of his own products, in using the metaphor of “poison[ing] the minds of thousands and perhaps millions of American young people”(38), he ascribes a significant purpose to literature and writers, as it is possible only for them to draw attention to factors in society that are considered to be worthy of improvement(39). With the carefully chosen word “poison” denoting a generally negative feature of the writer’s task, Kurt Vonnegut simultaneously implies that writers are regarded as outsiders in the United States.
The inescapable question why it is especially the young people whose awareness he wants to raise when it comes to showing that other forms of solving problems than violence exist is answered in the last two paragraphs. According to Vonnegut, adults persistently live up to the ideals and values they internalised in their youth, while youngsters have not yet become staunch in their way of living and can be influenced by those “myths”(40) of pacifism and the equality of man Vonnegut and other authors disseminate(41).
Furthermore, a closer examination of the extended metaphor of the “huge organism”(42) mankind gives information about Vonnegut’s understanding of community. The biological system organism is mainly characterised by (1) a certain interdependence of the cells in the organism, (2) a basic equality of every cell, (3) the permanent contact between different types of cells, and (4) the natural determination of the function of every cell. Since - as the metaphor suggests in a figurative sense - all human beings depend on each other and, consequently, are incapable of carrying out those tasks others have to fulfil, all members of society assume the responsibility for themselves as well as for every other fellow man(43). In connection with the natural restriction of every human being’s function, Vonnegut concurrently justifies his demand of a general freedom of fiction writers mentioned in the first part of the address, since in case of a limitation of their personal freedom, no other person would be capable of fulfilling their function of making “mankind aware of itself ...”(44) and of dreaming “its dreams”(45) , which might have devastating consequences for society. In consideration of the fact that a permanent contact of cells is required in an organism so as to keep up its existence, the reader or listener draws the conclusion that an author is characterised by participating in ‘simple’ people’s everyday life rather than by living isolated from the common population in order to respond “symbolically to life”(46) and to “sound the alarms”(47) in case of societal danger(48). The repetition of the word “dream”(49) four times eventually underlines Vonnegut’s thesis, as it inevitably suggests the content of the American Dream of Vonnegut’s time, that is, the American Dream of all citizens living in peace and equality. However, when emphasising that the organism mankind is a “single”(50) one, Vonnegut broadens this dream in favour of an international dream and indirectly claims the universality of his aims in front of an international audience(51).
Bevor der Leser damit beginnt, die Geschichte neu zu schreiben, muß er sich den genauen faktischen, psychologischen und emotionalen Ablauf des Geschehens klarmachen ... Es bleibt auf keinen Fall bei einer passiven Rezeption des Textes. Es muß sehr genau gelesen, hinterfragt und interpretiert werden“(55).
In addition to following the structure of argumentation in Vonnegut’s speech, firstly, the students have to find answers to the question why the intention of the first part of the speech is contradictory to the intention of the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, secondly, they have to voice a possible contrast to the statement before, because they have to guess what Vonnegut might have to tell his colleagues in private, and, thirdly, they have to internalise Vonnegut’s style to produce an adequate extension (56).
While several participants are presenting their follow-up texts of the address, the teacher is taking down characteristic features and parts of the contents of their different extensions on the board. Now the students are asked to discuss the likeliness or unlikeliness of specific endings on the basis of the key words and to substantiate their claims with their knowledge of the novel and in consideration of the characteristic structure of the address. After discussing different possibilities, the course members are to read the second part of the text. The obligatory procedure of textual comprehension is followed by a comparison between the actual ending and the follow-up texts the students wrote to give them the chance to verify and falsify their assumptions. As far as the extended metaphor of the organism is concerned, which is to decode after the class dealt with the metaphor of poisoning, the distinction between the different levels of analysis and interpretation and the interpretation itself will be easier for the participants if the teacher makes a simplified sketch of a biological organism available on a transparency: this will help the students to carry out and to comprehend the transfer from the factual level to the metaphorical level of meaning, which they often consider to be problematic and difficult. With regard to this procedure, it might not be too difficult for them to point out the author’s function in society and its consequences as it is set out above.
Cohen’s text treats the burning question of compensation for atrocities and death by means of vengeance in a way that differs radically from Vonnegut’s statement. In contrast to Vonnegut’s emphasising his general peaceable attitude by having chosen the topic of war in his novel and speeches, Adam Cohen evaluates death basically in two different ways when he connects James Byrd’s death with negatively connotated expressions like “barbaric”(57) or “heinous crime”(58), both of which support the impression of death and murder being abominable. On the other hand, John William King’s death sentence is undoubtedly considered to be a progressive action of “justice”(59), which to some extent compensates for Byrd’s murder and, in addition to Byrd’s death, helps to overcome general race barriers(60).
The only person who questions the ethic incontestability of the verdict quoted in the article is Diane Domenech, who, however, immediately plays down her doubts in her further statement: “’I hate to say people were happy, but they were, … and everyone’s just as happy as the next one at what happened’”(61). Notwithstanding the restricted perspective the author of the text creates by not quoting opponents of capital punishment, there is no denying that the population’s appreciation of the verdict actually existed. You can infer the general uncritical view of capital punishment in larger parts of the United States of America from the one-sidedness of the report and the citizens’ reactions that are mentioned in the article. In applauding the verdict, the “onlookers”(62) in Jasper expose themselves as a part of film and theatre industry Cohen uses as a means of introduction at the beginning of his article, an observation, which again refers back to the criticism Vonnegut expresses in his novel, namely the common conscious or unconscious attitude that death often serves as entertainment and satisfaction for a consumer society.
In the novel this criticism among other things is expressed by Valencia’s pride of her husband’s former partaking in war and, above all, by Ronald Weary’s satisfaction by imagining the worst way to die of all: (63)
Weary told Billy about neat tortures he’d read about or seen in the movies or heard in the radio?about other neat tortures he himself had invented ... He asked Billy what he thought the worst form of execution was ... The correct answer turned out to be this: “You stake a guy out on an anthill in the desert? see? He’s facing upward, and you put honey all over his balls and pecker, and you cut off his eyelids so he has to stare at the sun till he dies”(64).
In a further respect the conclusion that “the past isn’t dead; it’s not even the past”(65) quoted by Cohen turns out to be true. Just as Vonnegut broaches the topic of racism in the novel Slaughterhouse-Five when describing Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, so the author of the article reminds his readership of the nasty tradition of killing blacks by explaining the action and function of lynching(66). At the same time, it appears to be impossible to eliminate the roots of racism, as the author and the reader become aware of the fact that parts of the past, present, and future generations were, have been, and will be willing to stir up hatred against blacks and to live up to their conviction of supremacy (67).
However, in contrast to Vonnegut, who does not believe in a change of the deplorable state of affairs due to man’s lack of insight(68), Cohen signals a slight optimism in describing that after the atrocity the inhabitants of Jasper symbolically destroyed the cemetery fence in the town, which had been separating blacks and whites for decades, and in quoting Unav Wade: “’It’s [The incident in Jasper] changed people.’”(69)
The fact that Byrd’s individual fate attracts students more than a mass fate additionally forces them to reflect on their own reactions critically when grappling with the article. Since it deplorably needs shortening due to prior commitments, those passages are abridged that, for one thing, contain detailed descriptions without providing important information and, for another, inform the reader about aspects that do not directly refer to the novel Slaughterhouse-Five and its central themes in order to make the text accessible and as authentic as possible under these circumstances. As to the annotations, which are necessary because the article here and there contains English expressions that are too specific and complicated for contextual guessing, they are exclusively taken from the Dictionary of Contemporary English. With its “every definition expressed within a vocabulary of around two thousand basic and familiar words”(71), it guarantees an understanding of the main aspects of the text.
Buttjes’s argumentation in favour of the interdependence between the foreign culture and the familiar culture suggests that - especially when it comes to sensitive subjects like death and racism - the teacher has to offer the students the opportunity to broach the topics by connecting their own lives with the foreign culture(72). It is therefore a reasonable approach to ask the class participants to write a story, a fictitious diary entry, a letter, a short drama, a poem, a film scene, or a newspaper article with the help of the key words “stranger”, “discrimination”, and “death” as a homework. Additionally, the students learn the headline “A Life for a Life” and Germany as the setting of their texts. If members feel unable to cope with creative writing, they can alternatively bring pictures drawn either by other persons or by themselves or a piece of music that, to their mind, fits to the headline and keywords, and a written comment why they have chosen those specific items. Besides the great diversity of material, the advantage of the students’ chance to approach the subject according to their individual abilities, experiences, and preferences can hardly be overestimated. As this homework may require personal involvement--because the pupils probably include their own experience with racism--, the step should only be carried out if the atmosphere in class in general is genial and relaxed .
When the course members have presented their results and collected significant features derived from their own texts on the board, the teacher distributes the text. After the common procedure of reading it silently, clarifying textual difficulties - for example in a talk with another member and, later, with the teacher -, and checking the textual comprehension, the course is subdivided into two groups, one of which is to write down passages and key words of the text that shed a light on the depiction of Byrd’s death on a length of wallpaper, while the second group is to investigate the description of King’s death. The introduction of the two lengths of wallpaper can be connected not only with a direct comparison between the different manners of representation but also with their own written products. The students then take notice of the differences and are able to reflect critically on capital punishment in exchanging arguments in favour of and against it.
Additionally, the teacher should draw their attention to the spectators’ behaviour and to the attributes that are ascribed to them in general. When the students point out the effect of the vocabulary belonging with the semantic field of film and theatre, they can connect the article with the novel in order to answer the question whether Vonnegut’s statement expressed in the article coincides with Adam Cohen’s in a discussion in class. In this context the problematic nature of the colour problem can also be taken up when the teacher paves the way by drawing the students’ attention to the different persons and times that are mentioned in connection with the topic. The pupils are now able to become aware of similarities and differences of the writers’ perspectives and can make use of the thoughts they had when doing the homework task.
(2) Wilfried Brusch, "Vom Lesen zum Schreiben: 'Dependent Authorship," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 36-41. - Daniela Caspari, "Übersicht über kreative Umgangsformen mit literarischen Texten," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 31 (1997): 44-45. - Manfred Pulm, "Anregungen zu spielerisch-kreativem Umgang mit literarischen Texten", Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 25 (1992): 31-35.
(3) Egon Werlich, Praktische Methodik des Fremdsprachenunterrichts mit authentischen Texten (Berlin: Cornelsen, 1989). - Detlef and Margaret von Ziegesar, How to Analyse and Teach Non-Literary Texts, Scriptor Taschenbücher 135 (Königstein: Scriptor, 1979). Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen ed., Richtlinien und Lehrpläne für die Sekundarstufe II - Gymnasium/Gesamtschule in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Englisch, Schriftenreihe Schule in NRW 4704 (Frechen: Ritterbach, 1999), 54.
(4) Von Ziegesar, 11-12.
(5) Dieter Buttjes, "Lernziel Kulturkompetenz," Englischunterricht: Grundlagen und Methoden einer handlungsorientierten Praxis , eds. Gerhard Bach and Johannes-Peter Timm, Uni-Taschenbücher 1540 (Tübingen: Franke, 1989), 87.
(6) Stuart Amor, "Authenticity in the Language Classroom," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 33 (1999): 7.
(7) "The Banning of Billy Pilgrim," 2 June 1971: 681.
(8) Donald B. Veix, "Teaching a Censored Novel: Slaughterhouse-Five," English Journal 64 (1975): 27. - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Welcome to the Monkey House (London: Vintage, 1994), 316: Vonnegut claims that the only offensive word in the novel is "motherfucker".
The extract from Vonnegut's essay "The First Amendment" (in the following referred to as "FA" may be found in von Ledebur's didactic edition, which has already been been quoted above: Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five (Berlin: Cornelsen, 2nd ed., 1993), pp. 256-257. The first quotation may be found on p. 257, l. 26. In the following notes, references to pages as well as to lines are given, which is meant to facilitate the reader's orientation.
(10) "FA", p. 257, l. 8.
(11) Thomas Jefferson, The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Representative Selections, American Heritage Ser. 9 (New York: Liberal Arts, 1955), 3. Although in his essay Vonnegut explicitly refers to the First Amendment, it will be neglected here in favour of the more famous passage of the Declaration of Independence, which some of the students are likely to recall.
(12) Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 316 and 319.
(13) "FA", p. 257, ll. 17-18.
(14) Jerome Klinkowitz, "Vonnegut in America," Vonnegut in America: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut, eds. Jerome Klinkowitz and Donald L. Lawler (New York: Dell, 1997), 8. - William Rodney Allan, Understanding Kurt Vonnegut (Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1990), 8.
(15) Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: Essays (London: J. Cape, 1975), 237.
(16) "FA", p. 256, l. 7.
(17) "FA", p. 256, ll. 21-34 and ll. 9-15.
(18) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 15.
(19) Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 162.
(20) Veix, 26.
(21) Those "Feuersprüche" are, for instance: "Gegen Dekadenz und moralischen Verfall!"; "Gegen Verfälschung unserer Geschichte und Herabwürdigung ihrer großen Gestalten, für Ehrfurcht vor unserer Vergangenheit!"; "Gegen literarischen Verrat am Soldaten des Weltkrieges! ... "Gegen dünkelhafte Verhunzung der ... Sprache, "
Birgit Ebbert, Homepage, 9 Feb. 2002.
(22) Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 238.
(23) Peter Freese, "Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)," Der Roman im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe II: Theorie und Praxis, Informationen zur Sprach- und Literaturdidaktik 11, eds. Peter Freese and Liesel Hermes (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2nd. ed.1981), 413. -
Gemkow, Frank. Homepage, 10 Jan. 2002.
(24) Lothar Bredella, "How to Elicit Responses to Literary Texts: Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five as a Literary Text and as a Historical Document," Teaching Contemporary American Life and Literature in the German Advanced EFL Classroom: Proceedings of the Third Conference of the German Association for American Studies on the Didactics of American Studies, ed. Peter Freese (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1985), 64.
(25) Karl-Erhard Schuhmacher, "Texterschließung - Textproduktion - Textgespräch," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht 16 (1982): 307.
(26) Von Ziegesar, 12.
(27) Maria and Werner Kieweg, "Praxiserprobte Dialogtechniken," Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 34 (2000): 17. - Richtlinien XIII.
(28) During this phase the students have the chance to touch on the parallel to the burning in the year 1933 and to work their reflections on it into their argumentation. A detailed discussion of the connection between the incidents in Germany and in Drake in class would interrupt the logical train of thought so that it is neglected here.
(29) Werlich, 46.
(30) Kieweg, 18.
(31) The complete text of Vonnegut's "Address to P.E.N. Conference in Stockholm" (in the following referred to as "APC") may be found in the anthology already quoted: Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: Essays (London: J. Cape, 1975), pp. 253-257. Textual references again will refer to pages and to lines. A copy of this edition may be found in the English Department of Münster university (shelfmark: AR 8750/825). Among other things Vonnegut maintains that "fiction is harmless. Fiction is so much hot air". Cf. "APC", p. 254, ll.19-20. The first part ends with the provocative statement: "Thus ends the public part of my speech." Cf. "APC", p. 255, l. 14.
(32) See also Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 427.
(33) "APC", p. 254, ll. 7-9.
(34) "APC", p. 254, l. 9
(35) "APC", p. 255, l. 13
(36) The impression is supported when he compares the effect of literature to the power of a hydrogen bomb with "the explosive force of a very large banana-cream pie", which is tantamount to no effect at all. Cf. "APC", p. 254, l. 28.
(37) "APC", p. 255, l. 15.
(38) "APC", p. 255, ll. 19-20.
(39) In the preceding chapter it has been set out that Kurt Vonnegut does not close his personality and private life off from his professional life.
(40) "APC", p. 257, l. 1 and l. 3.
(41) Freese, 432-433. As you can deduce from Vonnegut himself, the present adults grew up with the myth of being heroes if participating in war. Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 405.
(42) "APC", p. 256, l. 3.
(43) Consequently, the metaphor mirrors Vonnegut's ideology that every human being is entitled to dignity, cf. Klinkowitz, 31.
(44) "APC", p. 256, l. 8.
(45) "APC", p. 256, l. 9.
(46) Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 237.
(47) Vonnegut, ib., 238.
(48) Thus, Vonnegut prefers a simple style to a complex one in order to reach an audience as wide as possible. Allan, 8.
(49) "APC", p. 256 l. 9 and l. 23.
(50) "APC", p. 256, l. 3.
(51) Vonnegut also shows his affiliation to those who fight for the realisation of the American Dream Martin Luther King propagated by taking up metaphors similar to passages in King's speech "The American Dream". See King, Martin Luther, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 208 and 210.
(52) Norbert Benz, Der Schüler als Leser im fremdsprachlichen Literaturunterricht, Giessener Beiträge zur Fremdsprachendidaktik (Tübingen: Narr, 1990).
(53) "APC", p. 255, l. 14.
(54) Owing to the short time available, the introductory part should take place in the last minutes of the preceding English lesson. As to the textual comprehension, it has to be emphasised that only if the learner has actually understood the text, he can move on to the next step. Cf. von Ziegesar, 12.
(55) Helmut Heuer and Theo Steinmann, "Literaturerarbeitung durch kreativ verfremdete Aufgabenstellungen," Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 37 (1990): 36.
(56) Those participants who do not deviate from the thesis mentioned in the first part have to cope with the task to give convincing reasons for the function of literature and writers as well as for the change Vonnegut has apparently undergone, which can serve as a basis for a lively and animated discussion on the background of the novel.
(57) Appendix, l. 1. We would like to express our deeply felt gratitude to both the author Adam Cohen and the editors of TIME Magazine for their permission to post this article in the internet.
(58) Appendix, l. 39.
(59) Appendix, l. 21.
(60) As Unav Wave stresses, a lighter penalty would have generally been considered to be inappropriate. Appendix, ll. 66-69.
(61) Appendix, ll. 73-77. Admittedly, in the unabridged version of the article, King's father begs for mercy, but since he is one of King's closest relatives, his reaction does not directly signal his general moral aversion against capital punishment.
(62) Appendix, l. 72.
(63) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 141.
(64) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 48-49.
(65) Appendix, l. 95-96.
(66) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 75 and 235. - Appendix, ll. 39-45.
(67) Racism in the past is presented in the description of lynching, and racism in the present is depicted in the actual topic of the article, whereas racism in the future is conveyed by the description of the white boy wearing a buckle with a symbol of the Confederate battle flag.
(68) Cf. Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 14.
(69) Appendix, l. 88
(70) Amor 7. - Buttjes, 99.
(71) Randolph Quirk, "Preface," Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1995 ed., ix. The question which words have to be annotated unfortunately has to be decided subjectively, because a reference work that lists up the words the pupils should know in class twelve or in class thirteen does not exist.
(72) Buttjes, 88.
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drag to pull someone or something along the ground
to scowl to look at someone in an angry way
shackles a pair of metal rings joined by a chain that are used for fastening together a prisoner’s hands or feet
repentance the state of being sorry for something you have done
lewd rude, dirty
dime-store a shop that sells cheap goods
mob angry/aggressive crowd
to tack sth on to add sth
to gloat to show in an unpleasant way that you are happy about your own success or somebody’s failure
stretch a long and narrow area of land or water
ditch a long narrow hole in the ground at the side of a field
heinous very shocking and immoral
iconic here: famous
insurrection an attempt by a large group of people to take control using violence
vigilante a person that takes the law into his/her own hand
subservient willing to do what other people want you to do
probation a system that allows criminals not to go to prison, if they behave well
bigoted having such strong opinions about race, religion, or politics that you are unwilling to listen to anyone else’s opinion
alleged supposed to be true although there is no proof that actually this is the case
verdict a decision of a jury in a court of law
subtle only noticeable if you pay careful attention
buckle a metal fastener used for joining the two ends of a belt
wrought-iron of iron that is formed to make gates or fences
redemption the state of being freed from the power of evil