Theme Of War In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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“Slaughterhouse-Five” is an anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut that follows the experiences of Billy Pilgrim through the Dresden firebombing, and his life afterwards. Throughout the book, one can follow the theme of the devastation of war by examining the negative effects the war has had on Billy. The theme shows itself through Billy’s sleeping patterns and mental state, his “time traveling,” and the symbolism of the phrase “So it goes.” After becoming a prisoner of war during World War II, Billy returned to the United States and became a practicing optometrist. However, Billy developed very irregular sleeping patterns that would sometimes interfere with his practice. Billy also fell victim to a mental breakdown, which he underwent shock therapy to recover from. Numerous times he would fall asleep in the middle of a patient’s examination. He struggled staying awake at times during the day and found it very difficult to sleep at night. Billy even had to visit his doctor to solve his sleeping issue because of the effect it …show more content…
This theme is shown throughout the story by examining Billy Pilgrim. After returning from the war Billy developed a terrible sleeping problem, falling asleep at random times during the day and needing the help of a special vibrating bed to sleep at night. Billy also began having hallucinations and constant flashbacks following a mental break during college. He imagined that he was kidnapped by aliens and believed he time traveled uncontrollably. Billy’s time traveling was in fact just flashbacks, even though to him the relieved events were as if he were truly there. Finally the phrase, “So it goes,” symbolizes the way Billy has coped with the fact that he has seen, and experienced, so much death. Effects like these are common among people that have been through experiences similar to Billy’s, which was one of the main themes of this great anti-war

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