In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five, the protagonist Billy Pilgrim is loose in time and is free, though not in control, to experience any moment of his life. Tralfamadorians have the ability to experience reality in four dimensions; meaning, roughly, that they have total access to past, present, and future; they are able to perceive any point in time at will. Able to see along the timeline of the universe, they know the exact time and place of its accidental annihilation as the result of a Tralfamadorian experiment, but are powerless to prevent it. Because they believe that when a being dies, it continues to live in other times and places, their response to death is, "So it goes." They are placid in their fatalism, and patiently explain their philosophy to Pilgrim during the interval he spends caged in a Tralfamadorian zoo. Tralfamadorians, an extraterrestrial race, explain the nature of time and existence to Billy. They provide Pilgrim with all of the ideas that make up his unique mental identity. They say that it is wiser to only focus one's attention on the good moments, for no moments are capable of being changed - they just are. Billy to some extent is capable of applying this philosophy to his life for he is blessed enough to be loose in time. Towards the end of his life, Pilgrim preaches these virtues of existence taught to him by his zookeepers on Tralfamadore.
Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five is a well written masterpiece suited for advanced literature courses such as AP English. Every scene is a small window of Billy Pilgrim’s life. The reader is not listening to a biography of man, but rather listening to the man tell his stories in a third-person narrative. He tells the reader what parts he wants whenever he feels like they need to be said, with no regard for a consistent time line.
Slaughterhouse-Five's complete disregard for the conventional way a piece of fiction should be written reveals marks of true genius. There are but two main...
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