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Literary Analysis: Time Restraints Don't Hold Vonnegut Bac

1426 words - 6 pages

In Mother Night and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the use of being "unstuck" in time, having no time restraints, allows the author to foreshadow important events and create links between events separated in time. Billy Pilgrim, the main character in Slaughterhouse-Five, travels back and forth in time to events that are significant in his life. Just as Pilgrim travels in time, so does Howard W. Campbell, Jr. from Mother Night. There are significant differences in the way that each character travels in time: Billy honestly believes that he relives certain parts of his life, while Howard moves in time with the use of flashbacks. As Billy can travel forward and backward in time, Howard solely recalls events in his life and cannot travel into the future.Billy is taken to Tralfamadore, a planet in another dimension, where he is taught to become "unstuck" in time. Vonnegut, at the beginning of the second chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five, confirms the belief that Billy travels in time: " Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time"(23). Therefore, there is no confusion that Billy's descriptions of past events are not flashbacks but actual visits to the past. The Tralfamadorians understand time and believe that they can look at any moment that interests them at any given time. The Tralfamadorians tell Billy that the idea of time on Earth is an illusion that one moment follows another, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever. Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five describes the Tralfamadorians view of time as "All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist" (27). Vonnegut's book is mirrored after the Tralfamadorians' idea of time, having no time restraints. This allows Vonnegut to describe events in order of importance, not in chronological order.With this theory of being "unstuck" in time, Vonnegut leaves no surprises in the book. The reader is aware of everything before it happens in the Earthling sense of time, such as Billy's death, his capture, and his airplane crash. All these events, which are important to the plot of the story, are revealed before they actually happen. This allows Vonnegut to go back and fill in all the details. Some critics say that this takes away from the suspense in Slaughterhouse-Five, but this also adds to the suspense. Simply addressing what happens in Pilgrim's life makes the reader want to know why and how. Questions flow through the reader's stimulating them to discover more details about a drastic event in the character's life.With the Tralfamadorians' explanation of time, Vonnegut can justify why the Dresden bombing occurred, why an open-city, off limits to Allied bombing was destroyed: It simply was supposed to happen, and will continue to happen and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The Tralfamadorians have a similar opinion about death: "When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the...

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