How long does it take for a personto emotionally and mentally get over a tragedy? How does such a thing affectthem? People handle situations differently: 5some good, some bad. In the book Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut usessatire to illustrate man’s ability to overcome tragedy through irony and humor.Billy Pilgrim, oneof Vonnegut’s main characters, has severe pain and suffers from a bombing inDresden.
The bombing alters his state ofmind and the Vonnegut uses this tragedy to let the readers see what it’s liketo experience an event that is detrimental to the physical and mental state ofyour body. He then gets the ability to go back and forth in time to hisbackground of the planet which has given him a new way of seeing time. Billy’sconditions of shock, bewilderment, dislocation, and want for getaway concludefrom the terrible backgrounds of war. His time travel could be seen as misconceptionsof an emotionally unstable man (Cott 270). His visions of the planetTralfamadore are his way of dealing with the existence of death and war (Lundquist42).Billy Pilgrim is aman who is captured in the horrors of war, who wishes only to be left alone todie.
He soon slips to the world of his creativity,Tralfamadore. This place is an unrealisticworld that becomes more real than the regular world. He then discovers of thealiens’ reasoning of death and time. It is one that defines his own.
Byaccepting that all moments exist at the same time, as Tralfamadorians do,Pilgrim can reject the presence of death and decade that “Everything was beautifuland nothing hurt (Merrill 89).” Tralfamadore isn’t a science fanciful place,but an illusion of Billy’s mind psychologically forced to help him face the frightfulnessof Dresden and death normally(Merrill 89). The time travel aspects of Billy’sdelusions cause the stage fright he gets at never knowing “what part of hislife he’s going to have to act in next (Edelstein 62).” Vonnegutis also a character in the novel, a writer trying to face his horrifyingexperiences during the World War I Allied bombing of Dresden. He tries and usesthis writing experience for not only a lesson but trying to get vilificationfor the events that happened in his life. He goes back and forth in time (asBilly does) in his attempt to get solutions to his inquiries. The novel’s firstchapter consists of Vonnegut exploring the problems he had in writing thenovel. He quotes the novel, “Is so short and jumbled and jangled because thereis nothing intelligent to say about a massacre (Cott 270).
” The conflicts Vonnegutface are the horrors of life and our artistic ability to understand their full truth(Lundquist 42). This allows the reader to connect the author to the maincharacter, Billy, who also went through a tragedy.In telling hisannoyance, Vonnegut gestates his own life the way he does Billy’s, in terms ofTralfamadorian time understanding (Lundquist 45). He uses Billy’s life as ascapegoat in a way that somehow helps him talk and cope about his dramaticexperience. He is unable to forget the memory of his wartime perspicacity andDresden fire-storm. Vonnegut’s attempts to come to a conclusion with thisfatality ended up making this novel. His problem is how to form and focus onthe idea of the terrors from the bombing lacking reality (Lundquist 43). Vonnegutmakes a comment that, “There are almost no tense disputes in this story becausemost of the people in it are so ill and so much the listless playthings of hugeforces (Cott 271).
Billy Pilgrim andKurt Vonnegut both have trouble coming to terms with their war experiences. Theway they view things are affected. But the ways they try to overcome thetragedies are different. Billy travels in time and uses Tralfamadorianism toaid him. Vonnegut uses time travel as well and writes his experience in the formof a novel. Billy, on the other hand, doesn’t write a story, but he wants to befall”unstuck in time.” By using the word “unstuck”, Vonnegut refers that Billy isnow free.
Vonnegut’sperception of war is a typical judgement day vision. No one can alter theearthly world. For, “Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were thepast, the present and the future” (Vonnegut 60). His bliss in his search only occurin the place of his creativity. The novel ends with the wrecking and seekingfor bodies in Dresden, with Billy having mixed images of life and death. A birdthen speaks to Billy. The bird has a better grasp on the real world than hedoes.
The amusement in this novel is one that causes anxiety about destruction,tortures of war, and death. War in Slaughterhouse- Five is an image of allthe harms of society. This novel is not a solution to the tragedy of war, but areply. It concentrated on the terrors of war, but also proposed that the bestresponse is to have distance while being nice to sufferers. These experiencesshaped both the author and Billy.
These two men’s traumatic memories of warcaused them to have severe physiological problems. The author connects theirproblems by making them cordial to one another. Man’s capability of overcoming terribleexperiences are seen by the use of Vonnegut’s writing.WorksCitedCott,Brett F. “Slaughterhouse-Five.” Novels for Students, edited by DianeTelgen and Kevin Hile, vol.
3, Gale, 1998, pp.270-272. Gale Virtual ReferenceLibrary, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=mag_k_magn0772&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3124800023&asid=672cdfle9fdc3ebfec23d9ab3670f871.
Accessed 4 Nov.17.Edelstein,Arnold. “Billy’s Time Travel in not Science Fictional but Psychological.” SocialIssues in Literature: War in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five, edited byClaudia durst Johnson, Gale Cengage Learning, 2011, pp.
59-66.Lundquist,James. “Facing the Cruelties of Civilization and Its Wars.” Social Issues inLiterature: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, edited by Claudia DurstJohnson, Gale Cengage Learning, 2011, pp.42-50.
Merrill,Robert and Peter A. Scholl. “Vonnegut’s Denunciation of Tralfamadore.” SocialIssues in Literature: War in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, edited byClaudia Durst Johnson, Gale Cengage Learning, 2011, pp.89-98.Tanner,Tony. “The Moral Problem of Billy’s Fantasies.
” Social Issues in Literature:War in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, edited by Claudia DurstJohnson, Gale Cengage Learning, 2011, pp.73-81.Vonnegut,Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty- Dance withDeath.