Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, is a novel in which
the laws of physics are broken -- apparently. Billy Pilgrim, the main character, is loose in time and is free, though not in control, to experience any moment of his life, including the moments before he was born and after he dies (experienced as hues with sustained sounds). At random times in the main sequence of his life he literally jumps to other times, something which he is fully aware of. He can be on Tralfamadore one moment, back on earth with his wife the next. This could be puzzling to the cursory reader, but Vonnegut makes sure to spell out his reasons why such events can be believed as realistic and perceived as happening, to some extent, to everyone everywhere -- at all times. The Tralfamadorians, who explain this nature of time and existence to Billy, are shown as enlightened creatures while the humans back on earth are seen as backwards -- to such an extent that they believe in free will. Billy towards the end of his life becomes a preacher of these virtues of existence taught to him by his zookeepers on Tralfamadore, going around and speaking about his experiences and his acquired knowledge. Much like Billy, Vonnegut tries to preach his own view of the universe and of existence, but through fiction. Billy's view is Vonnegut's view and it is through Billy and his experiences that Vonnegut
explains its nature to us. But the point here is not purely physical. Vonnegut applies it to everyday human life through the events in the novel, and in a strange twist, this application leads to a philosophy that Billy does not actually embolden.
Through Billy and the Tralfamadorians Vonnegut introduces
us to his ideas on the nature of time and physical existence. When Billy travels to Tralfamadore for the first time -- after having been unstuck in time for many years -- he is taught by the tralfmadorians the nature of time. They tell him that the human perception of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document