Literary Elements In Slaughterhouse Five

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Vonnegut’s fusion of historical fiction and science fiction in Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut, 1969), allows for an exploration of the aftermath of the war on both individuals who fought in it, and society post-war, which he does more specifically through the character of the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, and his invention of Tralfamadore. Noted by Kevin Brown, Vonnegut wanted to “remind the reader of the anomic alienation that existed in the society that came after that war” (Brown, 2011), which he does so eloquently through the element of science fiction within the novel. Despite the fusion of the two genres disrupting the chronology of the novel, we can explore how this seems to be relevant and contributes to the novel in a unique way that …show more content…
The effect his time travel has on himself is evidently negative, as we see he describes himself as ‘in a constant state of stage fright’ (17). However, whilst on Tralfamadore we see different aspects of Billy that we do not see while he is on earth. We do not see any resentment towards the Tralfamadorian’s for his abduction, what we do see is Billy engage and seemingly enjoy the environment of Tralfamadore. Noted by Brown, the creation of Tralfamadore by Billy is ‘not merely as a means to escape the reality of the horrors he witnessed in the war, but also to create a place where […] he is no longer alone’ (Brown, 2011). As we see in the novel, from Billy’s family life to his experiences in the war, he is isolated and rejected by many of those around him. Therefore, through the element of science fiction in the novel, Vonnegut offers up an insight into the difficulties faced with those suffering from mental health issues with Billy’s creation of Tralfamadore, as noted, ‘Billy's trauma over the war is so severe that he must leave Earth (either in his mind or for real) to find comfort after all the violence he has seen’ (Shmoop Editorial Team, …show more content…
These emotions can also seem to impact Billy’s apparent lack of desire to live. During the war, Vonnegut depicts Billy as isolated, the same way as he is with his family relations from an early age. As well as this, Billy is presented as somewhat dismissive of life and appears to have no desire to survive. This is also noticed by those surrounding him as well as himself. In one of the moments we see of Billy in the war, we see Roland Weary, state ‘He don’t want to live, but he’s gonna live anyway.’ (35). This could be Vonnegut providing an insight into the horrors of the war, as he himself fought in WW2, and therefore offers an insight into the hardships that were faced in the war, with regards to mentality in this context. Another instance we see of Billy’s resentment towards living, is when his mother visits him in the veteran’s hospital. We are aware that Billy’s relationship with his parents is a dysfunctional one, however the reasoning behind Billy’s hostility towards his mother is because ‘she had gone to so much trouble to give him life […] and Billy didn’t really like life at all’ (74). Billy is not only dismissive of life however, but also shows little regard for death, which is seen through the iconic line repeated throughout the entire novel, ‘So it goes’, which follows every time there is an account of death in the novel, whether it be fictional or

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