September 4, 2009
In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim discovers that the Tralfamadorian idea of time is that every moment is sealed by destiny and structured in a way that is unchangeable. Even though the Tralfamadorians and Billy can see their future, they know it is impossible to change it. Also, since their philosophy of time is fixed by fate and cannot be altered, it negates the concept of free will derived from Earth. In the beginning of the fourth chapter, Billy comes in contact with the Tralfamadore aliens for the first time. Unstuck in time, Billy knew beforehand that he was going to be kidnapped by the Tralfamadorian flying saucer. Once he was aboard the ship, Billy asked “Why me?” and the alien compares Billy situation to a bug trapped in amber. “ ‘That is a very Earthling thing to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simple is. Have you ever seen a bug trapped in amber? ’ ” (Vonnegut, 77). Here, the Tralfamadorian is suggesting that every moment in time is fixed the way it is. It was bound by fate and even though Billy knew he was going to be captured by the aliens he wouldn’t have been able to avoid it. Another example of this is when Billy is being held in an artificial habitat on the planet of Tralfamadore where he has several conversations with the aliens who are watching him on the outside of the artificial dome. At this point, Billy has been on their planet for quite a while. He is told that the universe ends by the Tralfamadorians experimenting with new fuels. Billy protest, questioning that if they know how the universe ends then why they cannot prevent it. “ ‘If you know this,’ said Billy, ‘isn’t there some way you can prevent it? Can’t you keep the pilot from pressing the button?’
‘He has always pressed it, and he always will. We always let him and we always will let him. The moment is structured that way’ ” (Vonnegut, 117)....