Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five 'And Briefing'

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Both Slaughterhouse Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut, and Briefing for A Descent into Hell, written by Doris Lessing, show signs of a disturbed individual; one whose life has been altered from reality. Billy Pilgrim, the main character of Slaughterhouse Five, disconnects from reality from the destruction of war. On the other hand, Charles Watkins, the main character of Briefing for A Descent into Hell, becomes disconnected from reality due to a mental breakdown. These novels deal with the works of the inner mind and the events that shape the way one thinks about life. Billy Pilgrims mind jumps around to different time periods due to his belief developed by the Tralfamadorians. This belief is that there is a fourth dimension, meaning that all …show more content…
Ultimately, this played a role in the symbolism of the destruction that war has on individuals. Due to war, Billy Pilgrim was not allowed to lead a normal life. This is shown through his family and through his constant travel between time periods. War caused Billy to grow up too fast. There was no transition between the innocent side he still retained from his childhood to the unvirtuous adulthood provide by war. During the war, Billy would abandon his gun and he dressed in silver boots, a jacket that was too small, and a blue curtain. He never embraced the role of being a soldier but could not do anything about it. Billy would have given up completely and let the opposing forces kill him so he could escape. He, however, has to endure the struggles of continuing to fight; only to be further disturbed by the horror war brings. This affects him later in life because Billy distances himself from his family due to the horrors he experienced. He walked in once on his son, Robert Pilgrim, during a party and realized that he did not really know him. His war trauma also affects his daughter, Barbara Pilgrim. The narrator describes her as a “bitchy flibbertigibbet” because she took the burden of being head of the family at a young age (Vonnegut 26). His children were the generation that grew up with a parent that served in the war. The war also causes Billy Pilgrim to imagine the Tralfamadorians. Their existence symbolizes the disorder in Billy Pilgrim’s life. When he is on Tralfamadore, he is trying to escape the world he lives in now because he does not know how to cope with what is

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