Slaughterhouse-Five

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE
OR THE CHILDRENS CRUSADE

Billy Pilgrim

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Page 1
Billy is the main character which emphasis of the whole book is placed. The novel is about four sides of Billy’s life: First his past life as a soldier in World War II; Next his present, uneventful life as a husband, father, and optometrist in Ilium, New York; Then his time travels that take him into the past and into the future; and lastly his life as a prisoner on the distant planet of Trafalmadore. Of the four parts of Billy’s life, the greatest emphasis in the novel is placed on his life as a soldier, because it controls both his past and his present. Billy Pilgrim, a Laid back man who takes life as it comes, without complaining and without trying to control it. While he becomes a successful optometrist, marries Valencia, and has two children, he never really takes charge of his life. Instead, he allows fate to control him and time traveling to direct him. When the Trafalmadorians come to kidnap him, he goes out to meet them, doing nothing to stop his capture. When he tries to tell the world about the Trafalmadorians and their way of life, he is judged to be insane, especially by his daughter, who blames his crazy stories on his head injury received in a plane crash.

I believe the Ethical dilemma in this novel is the inhumanity of war, as seen in the destruction of Dresden. Vonnegut is clearly pointing out in the novel that voluntary violence of any sort, particularly which perpetrated by a war, is completely unjustifiable and senseless. This leads to a lot of meaningless death. For Instance Billy Pilgrim is killed by an assassin hired to revenge Roland Weary’s death, Edgar Derby is executed by a firing squad for stealing a teacup from the Dresden ruins, Wild Bob dies of double pneumonia in a German railroad yard, “and so it goes”.

Billy Pilgrim...
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