In Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Billy Pilgrim is unable to cope with the realities of life. He tries to cope through multiple means, but ultimately the fact is that he does not cope well with the horrors and tragedies of life. Sometimes Billy will time travel and other times Billy will be completely despondent to death – either way Billy is not the model for a person who copes with the world because he is often still haunted by certain memories.
Undoubtedly, Billy Pilgrim would not be considered a good model of a person who copes well because he is unable to move on. It is evident that Billy has not yet gotten over the memories of the bombing of Dresden. At his anniversary party, certain lyrics of a quartet song bring back memories of the aftermath of Dresden. Although he doesn’t realize it at first, Billy does realize he was affected by the barbershop quartet song because it brought back memories of the Dresden bombings: “Billy thought hard about the effect the quartet had had on him, and then found an association with an experience he had had long ago” (Vonnegut 226). The fact that a song that isn’t related at all to the firebombing of Dresden completely affects Billy the way it did (causes him to make faces and flee the party) means that he hasn’t coped. If he had coped, he would not have been affected by the song or even not reacted to it. Evidently, Billy Pilgrim has not yet moved on from the bombing of Dresden.
When Billy does try to cope with things, the things he does to cope are not helpful. As said before, Billy occasionally time travels. It is found that he time travels whenever the situation he is in is unpleasant. For example the first time he time traveled was in World War II while he was leaning on a tree, grasping for his next breath. Because time traveling takes him away from unpleasant situations such as that, it can be considered one of Billy’s coping mechanisms. However, this does not mean he is a role model for a person who...
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