Kurt Vonnegut’s Experience Of Time Travel, War, And Death In Slaughterhouse Five

2378 words - 10 pages

Slaughterhouse-Five is a stirring science-fiction book, which contains many interesting themes such as, space and time travel, philosophy on death, war, and aliens. In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is not in the first chapter. The author of this book, Kurt Vonnegut is the main character in this chapter (Harris). This book is written in a rather random order because Billy Pilgrim lived his life that way. In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, the author’s imagination helps him get through reality by giving him the illusion that he is traveling through time and cannot die (Westbrook). Billy was a prisoner-of-war, but he continues with his normal life; he also believes that he was kid napped by aliens called Talfamadores (Peebles). These so called trips occur all through his life. He continues his life after serving in World War II by the occupation of optometry. He becomes rather wealthy but eventually dies. Giannone explains that there are three themes in Slaughterhouse-Five, which include, victory wins over death, the idea of no death, and the reader’s thoughts on the events of the book (Giannone).

Billy Pilgrim has gained the ability to become unstuck in time. Billy went to sleep one night as an old man, and has woken up the next day as a driven young engaged man (Vonnegut 23). He has no control over where he is going to stop next in his lifetime, these trips are rather frightening (Vonnegut 23). In Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy thinks he is able to escape the present and time travel, but really, he is going back in time and seeing the bombings and other experiences (Vees-Gulani). In this novel, time is not chronological order, the time lapsed in this novel is very large, the time is made up of small pieces of his life (Shear). For example, Billy spoke on a radio show in New York City. He talked about having the ability to time travel, and that he was abducted by aliens called Tralfamadores. He continued about how he went to their planet (which is also called Tralfamadore) where he was put into a zoo for public display (Vonnegut 25). The Tralfamadores abducted Billy during his daughter’s wedding. They took Billy through a “time warp”; he could be away from earth at Tralfamadore for long periods of time while only a few seconds passing on Earth (Vonnegut 26). Billy described the Tralfamadores as two feet high, plunger shaped creatures with one eye. They had the ability to see beyond three dimensions (Vonnegut 26).
The first time Billy time traveled was in 1944, before he met the Tralfamadores. The Tralfamadores did not give Billy the power to time travel, but to give him awareness of what is happening (Vonnegut 30). Billy was leaning against a tree in a forest when he first came unstuck in time; his life began to flash before his eyes. He saw death; no one was there with him, but he saw a violet light, and heard a humming noise (Vonnegut 43). Billy also traveled back to before he was born; he saw a red light and...

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