The Pursuit Of Death In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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“How nice – to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive” (Vonnegut 50). In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut introduces the genuine danger war implements on the innocent minds of soldiers by introducing Billy Pilgrim as a prisoner and Dresden bombing survivor. Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel appropriates around a science fiction theme where Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck” in time. Throughout the novel, Billy expresses his ability to time travel throughout different moments of his life, including his experiences with the creatures of Tralfamadore, (which appears to be his only way of escaping the horrific events). Billy continuously proves throughout the novel that he is not mentally stable; therefore, leading many to believe …show more content…
Although, Billy Pilgrim is a fictional character – it is also believed that he serves as a disguise to mask the hidden trauma the author himself has felt. Vonnegut creates this imaginary character to develop a message for us; thus, implicating that we must understand the uncertainties of life and inevitability of death being something we cannot fear. Vonnegut unintentionally illustrates this as a realization he has come to in his own life, most likely after his own war experience in Dresden, (He expresses his struggles through the P.O.V of Billy Pilgrim.) “Vonnegut’s writing of Slaughterhouse five can be seen as a therapeutic process that allows him to uncover and deal with his trauma” (Vees-Gulani). By creating Billy Pilgrim, we are allowed to understand a deeper meaning behind the bombing of Dresden. This alternate reality of “time hopping” opens up the audience to the dark truths of the aftermath of a traumatic experience. “Vonnegut uses time travel in order to find a language and structure to discuss the temporal breakdown and confusing interjections continually imposed by traumatic memory” (Wicks 9). This is easily shown when Billy Pilgrim is often at two places at once, “Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out of another in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963” (Vonnegut 14). As Billy jumps from various points of time in his life, losing his concept of reality in the process; eventually, his memories of life, death, and warfare turn into distant fantasies. Billy cannot distinguish between what is real and what is merely a figment of his imagination. He refers to the fictional planet of Tralfamadore to be an actual place, (which we can determine represents a land that is also a safe haven), but soon we learn Billy’s experience mirrors Kilgore

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