A Brief, urgent Message Cindy Oh
FIT FOR ACTIVE SERVICE Fit for Active Service, George Grosz, 1918 • “KV” in the image is abbreviated for the German term “fit for service.” The image depicts how unglamorous war is as the military leaders are grinning and sending a skeleton into war, which represents a horribly wounded soldier staying in war. Vonnegut sees this as human cruelty to other humans. The background shows smoke stacks, representing the industrialization and urbanization that is associated with the 1900’s and war. Vonnegut says, “…there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre” (19). The military leaders are taking part in this massacre as they still feel the need to send out the skeleton back to war because he is “fit for service.”
THE WEEPING WOMAN The Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso, 1937 • A thematic continuation of Picasso’s famous Guernica, The Weeping Woman depicts suffering as a result of the bombing of Guernica. The center of the painting shows the raw pain and suffering due to war. The jagged edges that make the painting jumbled and very distressed. The corrosive tears reveal her bones, showing the pain as the tears. Physical pain also would have been suffered by those fighting. Vonnegut writes, “It was war that made her so angry. She didn't want her babies or anybody else's babies killed in wars” (10). Mary O’Hare, a mother herself, weeps and suffers from war and the deaths of children and babies like her own. Through this painting, Picasso demonstrates the raw emotion someone can go through after tragedies such as the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Guernica and the burning of Barcelona in 1937 as well as other war tragedies that Vonnegut writes about in Slaughterhouse-Five.
ARMORED TRAIN Armored Train, Gino Severini, 1915 • Severini’sArmored Train shows a huge cannon and soldiers in the high-tech train with guns aiming at an unknown target. Severini’s intentions to show the Futurist faith in the cleansing action of war is the opposite of Vonnegut’s viewpoint on war. The light and bright colors of this painting show a glamorous side of war. Vonnegut is completely against the glamor and is ironic about throughout the whole novel. In the first chapter, Vonnegut tells Mary O’Hare, “…there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne” (15). For Vonnegut, war is not dazzling and interesting; war has targets and people killed by the cannons and guns everywhere, which is not in this painting.
THE CHILDREN’S WAR The Children’s War, Michael Pratt, 2009 • Pratt’s painting The Children’s War shows that children are always involved in war. Vonnegut writes, “This was a man who had lost an entire regiment, about forty-five hundred men-a lot of • them children” (31). In this painting, these children are arguing and are hovering over a dead body. In both Pratt and Vonnegut’s perspectives, children end up seeing negative images of war and while in war, see activities and the lifestyle that is not glamorous at all. This also shows that children also can be good or bad; no one is one or the other. Everyone is capable of human cruelty to others. The painting shows different aspects of children’s lives with animals, candy and clowns.