Essay PreviewMore ↓
War can destroy. War can teach. In Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five, the central character, Billy Pilgrim, is the outcome of a test. In creating and developing Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut's intention is to show the effect of modern war on a sensitive person who tries to play the game the way society expects. This, along with family influence, shapes how Billy acts in his two different lives: life in the military and life alone.
Torn inside and out, Billy Pilgrim was forced to make a choice. He had to choose the way he would live his life. Learning from his father, Billy could respond by taking his father's drive toward dominance over people and environment. Billy could also follow his mother, confusing him with her excessive demands for gratitude. Forced to decide, Billy chooses neither, which to him, is the easiest way to survive. He yields to his father's attitude without adopting it as a model, while withdrawing from his mother without complaint, without hurting her. He believes that sharing the guilt of aggression is more complicated than simply turning the other cheek, which shines through in moments under pressure.
Denial is also crucial to Billy Pilgrim's character. The Dresden bombing intensifies the damage to his personality. He can survive only by denying his experiences at Dresden and he divides himself into two halves: a social half that says, "Yes," and a private half that says, "No." His conflicts force his "surrender to the world," first with a mental breakdown, then with an escape into fantasy. Publicly, he agrees with the Marine major who wants more bombing, more Green Berets, while internally, he sees a war-film backwards, in which he wishes to undo the ravaging effects of war. Looking for an outlet, Billy discovers science fiction, which gives him perspective and consolation. This perspective forces him to teach others, to improve not people's physical sight but their spiritual vision, which eventually leads to his commitment.
How to Cite this Page
"Two Sides of Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Aug 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Slaughterhouse-Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut, is an anti-war book about the firebombing of Dresden, which the author witnessed in World War II. In the book, the reader is introduced with the main character Billy Pilgrim, who seems to have come "unstuck in time," rendering him the ability to travel or relive the past, present, and future (Vonnegut). Billy learns later on, from an alien race named the Tralfamadorians, that all time exists simultaneously. Vonnegut begins the book, however, with anecdotes from when he was just starting to write the book and how writing it led him to develop new ideas on war.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
2023 words (5.8 pages)
- Introduction: All of the three texts explore religion and its practises, but each approach it from a different perspective. Whilst Owen and Brecht refer directly to the idea of God and Jesus, Vonnegut uses a far more ambiguous approach; the opinion of God in ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ has to be read allegorically, as Vonnegut’s mentions of Christianity are seldom stated. Religion does not have to be seen as only an ideology and references to God are not the necessity needed to create the theme of Religion – it appears through spirituality and communities which follow the same belief.... [tags: Religion, God, Christianity, Slaughterhouse-Five]
936 words (2.7 pages)
- By looking at Billy’s condition during the war, we can see that the war was not as glorious as the countries wanted you to think which at the time was not obvious. This adds a critical and significant point of view on the war to Vonnegut’s anti-war book. During WWII, the fighting countries didn’t want to show how terrible war really was, instead they showed images of patriotic men fighting in the war. In reality, these “men” were just kids out of high school and some from college, not ready to fight battles in a war.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim]
1057 words (3 pages)
- Baruch Spinoza once said “Experience teaches us no less clearly than reason, that men believe themselves free, simply because they are conscious of their actions and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.” He compared free-will with destiny and ended up that what we live and what we think are all results of our destiny; and the concept of the free-will as humanity know is just the awareness of the situation. Similarly, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five explores this struggle between free-will and destiny, and illustrates the idea of time in order to demonstrate that there is no free-will in war; it is just destiny.... [tags: Kurt Vonnegut novel]
898 words (2.6 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout]
762 words (2.2 pages)
- In order to illustrate the devastating affects of war, Kurt Vonnegut afflicted Billy Pilgrim with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which caused him to become “unstuck in time” in the novel. Billy Pilgrim illustrates many symptoms of PTSD throughout the story. Vonnegut uses these Slaughterhouse Five negative examples to illustrate the horrible and devastating examples of war. The examples from the book are parallel to real life experiences of war veterans, including Vonnegut’s, and culminate in a very effective anti-war novel.... [tags: Slaughterhouse Five]
1779 words (5.1 pages)
- In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck” in time. The question here is, why. The fact of the matter is that he does not actually begin to time-travel. Billy “becomes unstuck” as a coping mechanism to deal with his traumatic experiences during the war. Billy attempts to reorganize his life’s events and cope with a disorder known as post traumatic stress (PTSD). “Post traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event” (Marilyn 8). It occurs when one has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event, such as war, child abuse, or other types of violence.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five]
1243 words (3.6 pages)
- Within the novel Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, the character Billy Pilgrim claims to have come “unstuck” in time. Having survived through being a Prisoner of War and the destruction of Dresden during World War II, and having been a prisoner used to clear away debris of the destruction, there can be little doubt that Pilgrim’s mental state was unstable. Furthermore, it may be concluded that Pilgrim, due to the effects of having been a Prisoner of War, and having been witness to the full magnitude of destruction, suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which caused him to review the events over and over during the course of his life.... [tags: Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut]
1566 words (4.5 pages)
- The Life of Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade Marked by two world wars and the anxiety that accompanies humanity's knowledge of the ability to destroy itself, the Twentieth Century has produced literature that attempts to depict the plight of the modern man living in a modern waste land. If this sounds dismal and bleak, it is. And that is precisely why the dark humor of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. shines through our post-modern age. The devastating bombing of Dresden, Germany at the close of World War II is the subject of Vonnegut's most highly acclaimed work, Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death.... [tags: Slaughterhouse-Five Essays]
2034 words (5.8 pages)
- Billy Pilgrim as a Christ Figure in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse Five After reading the novel, Slaughterhouse Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., I found my self in a sense of blankness. The question I had to ask myself was, "Poo-tee-weet?"(Vonnegut p. 215). Yet, the answer to my question, according to Vonnegut was, "So it goes"(Vonnegut p.214). This in fact would be the root of my problems in trying to grasp the character of Billy Pilgrim and the life, in which he leads throughout the novel.... [tags: Slaughterhouse Five Essays]
3080 words (8.8 pages)
- Dresden and the Destruction of Vonnegut's Dream
- Slaughterhouse-Five and the Psychological Consequences of War
- Slaughterhouse-Five: The Novel and the Movie
- The Themes of Slaughterhouse-Five
- Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five
- The Use of Fragmentation in Slaughterhouse-Five
Billy Pilgrim is two characters, two lives, which consist of a life in the military, the outer, public life, and his life alone, the inner, internal life. In the Army, Billy is numb and confused, but in civilian life, he is more expansive, more exploratory, even showing a quiet love of dramatic irony. In whole, Billy stands for pacifism and tolerance. In such a world, in this environment, Billy Pilgrim can only appear as a clown.