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Billy Pilgrim character analysis/ Themes

sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=L itRC&userGroupName=bata60268&tabID=T001&searchId=R2&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSeg ment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&currentPosition=4&contentSet=GALE|H1420020855&&docI d=GALE|H1420020855&docType=GALE&role=LitRC  “Vonnegut continually undercuts our willing suspension of disbelief in Billy's time travel by offering multiple choices for the origin of Billy's imbalance: childhood traumas, brain damage from his plane crash, dreams, his shattering war experiences, and plain old fantasy” “In short, Tralfamadorianism is an argument for determinism. Yet, this is determinism without design, where chance rules. The universe will be destroyed accidentally by the Tralfamadorians, and wars on earth are inevitable.... The upshot of the Tralfamadorian philosophy finds expression in a cliché: ‘Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.’ “ Meaning of Tralfamadorianism: If everything is predetermined and there is no ‘why’ then men don’t need to justify why they do bad/good things, it just is. o “In his personal life, Billy's indifference and apathy toward others are clearly illustrated. Chapter Three offers three consecutive examples of Billy's behavior: he drives away from a black man who seeks to talk with him; he diffidently listens to a vicious tirade by a Vietnam Hawk at his Lions Club meeting; he ignores some cripples selling magazine subscriptions. Yet the Tralfamadorian idea that we can do nothing about anything fully justifies Billy's apathy. When Billy preaches this dogma as part of his “calling,” he does a great service for the already apathetic by confirming their attitude; he provides them with a philosophical base for their apathy. If one ignores the ghetto or the Vietnam War, neither exists.” Novel represents Vonneguts hatred towards God because “God’s will” justifies atrocities of warall wars are ‘holy-wars’-men justify war and get away from guilt by calling it god’s war.

Reed, Peter J. "Kurt Vonnegut, Jr." American Novelists Since World War II: Fourth Series. Ed. James R. Giles and Wanda H. Giles. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 152. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. Vees-Gulani, Susanne. "Diagnosing Billy Pilgrim: a psychiatric approach to Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 44.2 (2003): 175+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writers Volume 2

city marked off and whole sections ‘cremated’ Public learns that bombings not always directed at industrial powers. easy to aim bombs o Only one concrete bunker for bombs in the whole city Dresden burned for a week Task of removing dead so hard. HISTORY-DRESDEN      Attack so destructive because… o Virtually no opposition o City’s antiaircraft guns were removed and sent to the Russian front o Fuel shortage made it so pilots were forbidden to take off without authorization o Authorization came too late-pilots sat on runway and watched Dresden burn o Weather NY as publicist for GE corp. Chicago: Time-Life Books.1922 in Indianapolis. o Began submitting short stories to journals o Quit GE to work only on writing Player piano. 1st published novel Several novels throughout 1950’s and 1960’s Work not recognized until 1960s when American society began accepting social satires Contemporary Popular Writershttp://go.000 to 120. Ronald|K1632000266&v=2. 11.1&u=bata60268&it=r& p=LitRC&sw=w&authCount=2 BIOGRAPHY         Since SH5.000 killed Post SL5 begins essays and popular journal writings on social issues Very satirical and cynical Died in 2007 of brain damage from a fall Continued to publish novels until death (page 190-191) Bailey. IN Son of successful architect Attended Cornell-majored in Chemistry and Biology Served in WWII. of Chicago Moved to Scenectady. captured at Battle of the Bulge in 1944 Witnessed Dresden-80. been a famous spokesperson on social and cultural issues Studied journalism in high school Mechanical engineer in WWII. taken prisoner by Germans After war studied anthropology at Univ. but a citizens Press suppressed in Britain and low in America . 1981. The Air War in Europe. Print.         BIOGRAPHY Born Nov.

it is a form of fence-sitting and a response that humanity can no longer afford.. dark humor arguments if switching for style) “So it goes” repetition  “critics have pointed out that Vonnegut is not angry enough that so it goes is an insufficient response to the suffering and evil in the world. as Vonnegut makes clear in his frame. and 100 other countries sign the ‘nuclear nonproliferation treaty’ Published around time of Vietnam war which is why people accept the satire style Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature  “The larger meaning of the novel applies to the late 1960’s.HISTORY. that irony is the intellectual’s expression of impotence.” (Charles L. ‘And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam.” o Vonnegut uses repetition to show the helplessness of the situation and the human reaction.’ And there are times when one gets the feeling that Vonnegut’s description of himself as a ‘total pessimist’ is accurate and unequivocal.” Pg.’” Freewill Science Fiction Writers second edition (Look in this book for Sci-Fi. recently have been murdered. Robert Kennedy and MLK jr. Elkins) pg.PUBLISHED DATE       Published in 1969 Nixon inaugurated in January Nixon begins ‘Vietnamization’ Astronauts take first walk on the moon U. 854 NEW SOURCE-Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature –David Peck .  “Along with situational irony. he observes that ‘laughing or crying is what a human being does when there’s nothing else he can do. the reader looks forward to the ritual recitation. there is a good deal of verbal irony… (Such a repetitive phrase later becomes a Vonnegut calling card-witness “And so it goes” in Slaughterhouse-Five…) It is funny.858  “In his Playboy interview (1973). At the same time the profession of sincerity is undercut by the frequency of its restatement. Vonnegut writes in the last chapter.S. Showing of emotion is the final and desperate straw for humans.

more precisely. always have existed. with no embellishments. and paragraphs into prose—is one of the most difficult aspects of literature to analyze." a fact that nothing can alter. This concept is articulated through the philosophy of the Tralfamadorians. the present. but also the absurdity. He often describes complex events in the language one might use to explain something to a child. for whom time is not a linear progression of events. its absence." Black Humor Style Novels for Students. and the future.” Novels for Students volume 3  “One of the most important themes of Slaughterhouse-Five is that of free will. as if his readers were seeing it clearly for the first time." Accordingly. Vonnegut deliberately uses a very simple. present. both in small details (the description of the half-crazed Billy  . horrible. In describing overwhelming. but a constant condition: "All moments. straightforward prose style. of an event. it should be noted that Slaughter-house-Five is written in a very distinctive style. "Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past. grim.” “Black humor refers to an author's deliberate use of humor in describing what would ordinarily be considered a situation too violent. the author is able to convey not merely the tragedy. or tragic to laugh at. always will exist. sentences. and to ignore the unhappy ones. past." What happens. and future. the Tralfamadorians advise Billy "to concentrate on the happy moments of life. In so doing. Volume 3  “Style—the way an author arranges his or her words. Vonnegut forces the reader to confront the fundamental horror and absurdity of war head-on. However. “The novel is held together not by any linear plot line but by these recurring images and phrases (particularly the Tralfamadorian ‘So it goes’ whenever death is mentioned). The cause of Billy’s autistic present lies in his horrific past. as in this description of Billy Pilgrim being marched to a German prison camp: In writing this way. and often inexplicable events.” Freewill Theme Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature –David Peck  “The Tralfamadorians say free will exists nowhere in the universe except on Earth-allows Billy to live in a world of which he has lost the essential meaning. or. happens. "Only on Earth is there any talk of free will. Vonnegut uses black humor throughout Slaughterhouse-Five." All beings exist in each moment of time like "bugs in amber.

In the end. war is not an enterprise of glory and heroism. he says of the novel. as well as the profound dislocation and alienation he feels after the war. but he continues his time-traveling experiences. but an uncontrolled catastrophe for all involved. made literal by Billy Pilgrim's being "unstuck in time. like everything else. Volume 3  “Slaughterhouse-Five deals with many different themes. after the Battle of the Bulge.”  . marries.Pilgrim. The horrors of the war are so overwhelming that Vonnegut doubts his ability to write about them. but it is most of all a novel about the horrors of war. not chronological+ “In this way. Although World War II is regarded by most as a justified conflict which defeated the genocidal regime of Nazi Germany. as a "filthy flamingo") and in larger plot elements (Billy's attempts to publicize his encounters with the Tralfamadorians). "It is so short and jumbled and jangled … because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. His time spent with the Tralfamadorians helps him to gain a peaceful perspective on life. and has two children. and anyone who seeks glory and heroism in war is deluded.” War theme Novels for students. beyond his power to control. Billy comes to accept the fact that he cannot change events. Vonnegut sees only victims on all sides. from the American soldier executed by the Germans for looting to the 135. as he becomes unstuck in time while watching a war movie on television and see it backwards” *talking about weird structure. to reinforce the idea that the horrors of war are not only tragic. and he devotes life to teaching the philosophy of the Tralfamadorians to the people of Earth." Appropriately. For Vonnegut. which are. Speaking directly in the first chapter.000 German civilians killed in the Allied firebombing of Dresden. the novel's structure highlights both the centrality of Billy's war experiences to his life. volume 3  “After the war. Billy's condition offers the most striking image of peace in the novel.” Billy Pilgrim Novels for students." The only response to the nightmare of war is a profound alienation and distancing. but inexplicable and absurd. His life is mundane. Billy becomes an optometrist.

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