Slaughterhouse Five By Billy Pilgrim Essay

Slaughterhouse Five By Billy Pilgrim Essay

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Slaughterhouse-Five is a story of Billy Pilgrim 's capture by the Nazi Germans during the last years of World War II. Throughout the narrative, excerpts of Billy’s life are portrayed from his pre-war self to his post-war insanity. Billy is able to move both forward and backwards through his life in a random cycle of events. Living the dull life of a 1950s optometrist in Ilium, New York, he is the lover of a provocative woman on the planet Tralfamadore, and simultaneously an American prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. While I agree with Christopher Lehmann-Haupt that Slaughterhouse-Five effectively combines fact and fiction, I argue that the book is more centralized around coping.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck” in time, though he does not truly begin to time-travel. Billy becomes “unstuck” as a coping mechanism to deal with his traumatic experiences during the war. Pilgrim begins seeing and interacting with Aliens from the planet called Tralfamadore. "I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply it" (Vonnegut 109). Basically, the Tralfamadorian is telling Pilgrim that there is no such thing as free will, and that whatever has happened, and will ever happen, has always been destined to be, and at the same time there is no chronological order of events: the past, present, and future are all one. In reality, Pilgrim tells himself all of this to help him cope with not only being on the side of the bombing of Dresden, but also surviving it and then coming home and obtaining a great job, which he thinks he doesn’t deserve due to the terrible things th...


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...rd movement of the novel, the purposeful violation of normal chronological sequence, and the absence of conventional attitudes regarding the subject matter, are all purposefully inserted to prevent the reader from emerging from the work with a comfortable sense that moral order has been restored” (236). Matheson is basically saying that Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse-Five with a chaotic style so the reader knows what the disturbing effects of war are. There is no clean ending for war which is why Pilgrim has such a hard time coping with it.
Slaughterhouse-Five is a great piece of literature that has so many deep meanings in it. Coping with traumatic experiences from war is one of the big ideas and I believe that it is the most important one due to the fact that it links so many things together, and that the whole reason the Tralfamadorians exist are to help him cope.

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