Slaughterhouse Five Free Will Analysis

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If the accident is will”. This quote is from the anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut demonstrates one of the major and evident themes that are explored in the book. The most significant theme in Slaughterhouse-Five concerns the illusion free will. Over and over again, Vonnegut proclaims that there is no such thing as free will; humankind is the slave of predestination, meaning that all human actions are prescribed before they occur. A person who chooses to do an action is not really choosing at all — the choice has already been made. One of the first instances of free will is through the idea of the aliens that the main character, Billy Pilgrim, conjures up. In Slaughterhouse-Five, Pilgrim utilizes the Tralfamadorians, with their absurd yet humorous toilet-plunger shape, as a symbolic metaphor to demonstrate the contradiction that is free will. The aliens are a species that can view in four dimensions, which contains all moments of time which “occurring and reoccurring endlessly and simultaneously” (Vonnegut 1967). This allows them to take an attitude of acceptance and nonchalance about “fate” and mainly about free will, because they believe that all moments have already happened and the past, present and future is set in stone. According to the Tralfamadorians, only humans believe talk of free will, since humans are mistakenly under the impression that time is a linear progression (2013, Sparknotes). It is the slightly bizarre introduction of the alien presence of the Tralfamadorians that allows Vonnegut to explore the central question of free will that operates in this novel. Tralfamadorians can look at the world in the fourth dimension, allowing them to see all moments of time simultaneously. This means that ... ... middle of paper ... ...t playing the role that is intended for him in whatever situation that he is currently in, never having the opportunity to actually perform the actions that he wants, once again displaying the lack of free will. Free will is an introspective concept that humankind believes in, and hopes to understand. “Every professional and indeed, every amateur philosopher has given his opinion on the matter, and Kurt Vonnegut, who falls into a very special category of amateur, that of Writer, gives his as well, although not, perhaps, without a touch of irony” (Bourré 2013). Vonnegut’s opinion that is given in Slaughterhouse-Five, seems to say that mankind has no free will. He emphasizes the futility of free will through the symbolism, which dispersed throughout the book, in various symbols such as the Tralfamadorians, a recurring motif and the use of a disjointed narrative.
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