Slaughterhouse-Five

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Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut was an anti-war book about the bombing of Dresden. The main theme of the book seemed to be fate, or that nobody has free will. Throughout the book, Billy, is randomly traveling in time. Whenever he has the opportunity to make a choice that would seem like the right, or intelligent thing to do, he does not, as he does not have the free will to make that choice. This also leads to Billy not caring about many things, knowing they will happen no matter what anybody does. As explained on the planet of Tralfamadore, Billy can not make any choices. The Tralfamadorians tell him that he lacks free will, saying "Only on Earth is there talk of free will" (109). One of the Tralfamadorians also said they were "trapped in another blob of amber" (108), referring to the fact that neither he or Billy can change anything in life, and that everything has been, is, and will be the same. The Tralfamadorians also know how the end of the universe will come. They will be testing their rocket fuel, and it will fail and destroy the entire universe. When Billy hears this, he asks "isn't there some way you can prevent it?" (149). The Tralfamadorians tell him that they cannot change it, as the pilot has always done it, and always will do it. This is likely when Billy finally loses all belief in the idea of free will. A main example of fate would be when Billy is on an airplane. In Slaughterhouse-Five, it states that "Billy, knowing the plane was going to crash pretty soon, closed his eyes, traveled in time back to 1944" (198). Soon after, "the plane smacked into the top of Sugarbush Mountain in Vermont. Everyone was killed but Billy and the copilot" (199). Instead of doing anything about it, Billy just waits for the plane to crash. If Billy had free will, he would have tried to warn the others on the plane, or not gotten onto it at all. Another good example of the lack of free will would be when Billy is about to die. Normally, someone would care about their death, but Billy does not. He locks up a tape in a safe-deposit box, saying "I, Billy Pilgrim, will die, have died, and always will die on February thirteenth" (180). Before he dies, he is giving a speech, and he knows that he will be assassinated.

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