Post War Insanity Essay

1170 words - 5 pages

Post-war Insanity

“This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of

tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from.” Insanity is

a major theme in Kurt Vonnegut’s life and in turn his novels tend to be a release

for his thoughts of mental illness. Vonnegut’s characters tend to embody him

or at least characteristics of himself. His characters generally suffer from mild

insanity and therefore hints that Vonnegut himself is possibly mildly insane. In

each of his novels there are characters that are highly related to Vonnegut such

as Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, and Eliot Rosewater. Each of these characters

appear in different novels to help develop the plot and continue the relative

theme. The theme of insanity is what dominates the novel Slaughterhouse-Five,

and is what ties all aspects of the tale together.

     

In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five there is a character that is identical to

Vonnegut. His name is Billy Pilgrim. Both were in the American army and

became prisoners of war. Also, they both witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden,

Germany. “Dresden was destroyed on the night of February 13, 1945,’ Billy

Pilgrim began. ‘We came out of our shelter the next day.” (Slaughterhouse-Five

179) Billy is a thin frail boy who joined the Army so he would become a man, like

the author. ”World War II attracted them both because they realized that it was

an important time in history. With the horrors of war Pilgrim went into quasi-

insane state he’s described as “…bearded … in a blue toga and silver shoes,

with his hands in a muff (Slaughterhouse-Five 149).” This description is after they

got off of a POW train on a “balmy” Dresden day. Vonnegut also has this

character become “unstuck in time” or on a more realistic level, he has

flashbacks, even though Pilgrims flashbacks flash him to the future as well as the

past. His future is to Tralfamadorian Zoo; Tralfamadorians are little green men,

the Tralfamadorians, as a sort of appeasement to his capture, gave Pilgrim a

beautiful wife. This flash-forward was most likely just a science fiction writer’s

fantasy. His real future is as a Ilium, New York optometrist. His unsticking in time

is just a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It appears in both Pilgrim

and Vonnegut, and later in Rosewater. Which lead to the ever-present flashbacks

and trips to a future space zoo.
     

Pilgrim also has problems distinguishing the past, present, and future. On

top of that he doubts his own judgement. “He had fallen asleep at work. It had

been funny at first. Now Billy was starting to get worried about it, about his mind

in general. He tried to remember how old he was, couldn’t. He tried to remember

what year it was. He couldn’t remember that either.” (Slaughterhouse-Five 56)

These flashbacks are told later in better detail, “…for he was simultaneously on...

Find Another Essay On Post-War Insanity

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Veterans

1652 words - 7 pages Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), originally associated with combat, has always been around in some shape or form but it was not until 1980 that it was named Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and became an accredited diagnosis (Rothschild). The fact is PTSD is one of many names for an old problem; that war has always had a severe psychological impact on people in immediate and lasting ways. PTSD has a history that is as long and significant

Control And Order As A Metaphor For Social Order In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

700 words - 3 pages fallen to communism, and America had unequivocally lost its first war. In August of 1974, Nixon had resigned after the Watergate scandal, following Spiro Agnew's resignation the year before. Additionally, Israeli and Arab unrest had intensified, and OPEC threw the economy, arguably America's object of greatest pride, into recession and high inflation. Cuckoo's Nest, much like the vast social critiques of the post-World War I and II eras, served as a

A Major Major Major Major Problem: Joseph Heller's Catch-22

1832 words - 7 pages experiences in war and uses them to exemplify the insanity of it. Although more than fifty years have passed since Heller published Catch-22, much of his portrayal of war remains accurate. By acknowledging that there are still lessons to be learned from Catch-22, the art of war can be changed for the better. Soldiers can become immersed and trapped in the absurdity of war. Similarly to Yossarian’s permanent entanglement in the military

The Things They Carried: Motifs Exhibited in "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong"

1271 words - 5 pages and more meaningful through the repetition of themes in his stories.War changes people, but its effects are different from person to person. Some are driven to insanity and some to nostalgia for the war, some for the better but most for the worse. In “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” Mary Anne came to Vietnam a sweet and innocent girl fresh out of high school, but the allure of the war transformed her. She never went back. Rat describes

sigfried sassoon

1308 words - 5 pages man the misery of the trenches was excruciating and effected his writing entirely. Those events led him to denounce the continuation of the war as insanity in his poem; A Soldier's Declaration which was printed in The Times newspaper. (poets of world war II) This poet made graphic writing a reality. However today we have a viewer rating system for Hollywood films. In Sassoon's day there was public discrimination. Sassoon writes as he does because

Post Cold Wat Nuclear Deterrence

2227 words - 9 pages Post-Cold War: US Nuclear Deterrence "The current questioning of nuclear deterrence implies something other than it's withering away. There is no post nuclear strategy"¦The nuclear instrument remains the central element in the defense of the nuclear powers." -Anonymous French analyst For the citizens of the United States nuclear arms in the post-cold war era are no longer looked upon as deterrents from war, rather, they are nothing more

Detonating the Bomb: The Relationship of PTSD In Vietnam and Iraq Veterans

2365 words - 9 pages thoughts becomes too great. It is like he has never left war. It dawns to him that this is the one IED he may not be able to defuse—himself. In the course of military history, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and war often go hand in hand. Having said that, the symptoms of PTSD were not always listed under that name. The first reoccurrences of PTSD were in the Civil War and was named under “soldier’s heart” or even “insanity” because the symptoms

Gene and Finny's Loss of Innocence In "A Separate Peace" By John Knowles

1026 words - 4 pages army, he quickly begins to have hallucinations because the reality is too much for him to handle. Nevertheless, he eventually overcomes his insanity and seems to be fairly mentally stable by the end of the novel. Although Finny and Leper's traumas are the source of a major loss of purity and childhood, they are also the cause of post-tramautic growth and a necessary increase in maturity.Finny goes through several perception-changing events during

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vennegut

1537 words - 6 pages 25,000 people with the use of incendiary bombs and it destroyed a majority of the city in real life. Billy likely suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the book as a result of the horrific scenes he bore witness to, and this might help explain the mental imbalance that caused him to believe he had become “unstuck in time”. Many real-life veterans have undergone similar problems as a result of War; the greatest evil mankind has ever created

Vietnam and Cinema

1459 words - 6 pages situations ranging from the loss of their spouse to a variety of sexual abuses. In an article entitled Civilian Women at War Lynn McCormack explains, “ In response to war zone exposure categories of life threat, sexual discrimination and abuse, and personal trauma the majority of participants were asymptomatic of post trauma stress” (McCormack). McCormack is referring to the women exposed war and explains the impact this has on their mental health

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

2109 words - 8 pages , you tend to lose it mentally which is exactly what happened to Billy. Now there is now way to determine if the cause of his insanity was the war or the plane crash or maybe even both combined. This is very hard to understand because Billy seems so successful and well off after the war. When Billy returns home, things turn out pretty well for him his a materialistic sense. He is president of the lions club, a successful optometrist and lives in

Similar Essays

"Slaughterhouse Five" By Kurt Vonnegut Essay

671 words - 3 pages all. The anguish of war can inflict so much to harm the mind of the common man. From post-traumatic stress, to profound depression, to sheer insanity, the effects of war, from a mental standpoint, can do no good to a man. If one was to imagine living through daily torture and malnourishment, then possibly, one would have an idea of what war is like. Real wars are not like the ones depicted in many movies; the good guys don't always win. Quite

Mental Illness In Shakespeare's Works Essay

1766 words - 8 pages , Lear, his decision to exclude his third daughter, Cordelia, from her inheritance, the abuse he suffers at the hands of his other two daughters, Goneril and Regan, and his descent into insanity, before dying. Possibly the first indication of Lear’s madness is when he declares, “Since now we will divest us both of rule,/Interest of territory, cares of state,/--Which of you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may extend.”(King

Horrors Of War All Quiet On The Western Front

827 words - 3 pages the army for several reasons.First, the novel describes in detail the worst case scenarios associated with war. Soldiers would be able to make better decisions when enlisting. Second, those soldiers who enlist would be better prepared for the mental horrors that arise post-war. Finally, the novel sets a standard for the patriotism needed to serve one's country and the honor that comes with that patriotism.The novel depicts war as it actually is

Catch 22 By Joseph Heller Essay

1610 words - 6 pages conditions of one contradict or disable the other. Insanity was the reason many of the soldiers went and fought in this war, but when the soldiers pled insanity to the officials they could not leave the war. The result of this double predicament was to trick the soldiers and to give them no choice but to go on the missions. Most of the action in Catch-22 is based on Joseph Heller's experiences as a young officer and bombardier stationed on Corsica