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A Book Report On Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

1463 words - 6 pages

1. Major Characters of the Novel
a. Billy Pilgrim is the person that the book is written around. We follow him, perhaps not in a straight order, from his youth joining the military to his abduction on the alien planet of Tralmalfadore, to his older age at his 1960s home in Illum. It is his experiences and journeys that we follow, and his actions we read about. However, Billy had a specific lack of character for a main one. He is not heroic, he has very little personality traits, let alone an immersive and complex character. Most of the story is written around his experiences that seem more like symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his World War Two days, combined with hallucinations after a brain injury in a near-fatal plane crash. His personality is greatly impacted by his lack of belief in free-will, supported by the theme.
b. The Tralmalfadorians a plunger-like aliens that capture Billy and put him in an alien zoo for a period of time. They have a different perception of time than humans, one that has no free-will. They believe everyone is always existing. Everyone lives throughout a pre-determined, fixed timeline. They teach these ideals to Billy, which develop his character and become the premise for his actions, or lack thereof throughout the story. This ideal eliminates several things; responsibility for actions because everything god or bad is predetermined, concept of death because everyone is always existing, and choices because you have no control. This gives Billy a way to avoid the feelings he experiences with the large amount of loss and negativity in his live. He can write off any emotion as a pre-determined “meant to be” existence that he did not, does not, and will never have any control over. So it goes.
c. The Narrator of this story is essentially, Kurt Vonnegut. The narrator in the beginning talks about actually being at the Dresden firebombing and his urge to get it off his chest being the motivation for Billy’s story. Despite the similarities between Vonnegut and the narrator, he is still essentially a fictional character in the book, perhaps based off of Vonnegut himself. Several times in the novel, specifically in the POW camp in Dresden, the narrator jumps into first person to describe a character he knows personally, or a similar experience he had.
d. Kilgore Trout is a science-fiction writer that Billy is a fan of. Kilgore lives in Illum and is not particularly proud of his writings, mostly writing himself off as a bad, unpopular author. One of the reasons Billy is so fond of him may be the similarity between his novels such as The Gospel of Outer Space bare striking resemblance to Billy’s experiences on Tralmalfadore. Kilgore is the only character that manages to meaningfully engage with Billy in a way that relates to his issues. He is able to suggest that Billy is traveling through a time window as an explanation for Billy’s time travels. He understands him on a different level, and this is what singles...

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