The Trophy for Villainy: an Analysis of the Villain in Slaughterhouse-Five

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The Trophy for Villainy
Although many might heartily defend the villainy of Roland Weary or Paul Lazarro, it is clear that the true antagonists of Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-five are culture, society and history, all of which play a major role in Billy Pilgrim's ascent to death. Characters are not villains; their actions may suggest the contrary, but they are caused by the negative effects of society, which changes with area, culture, which changes with time, and history, which cannot be changed, and yet still yields the same results as the two former. History is defined as a chronological record of significant events. Roland Weary's history has a negative effect on his present, including the fact that he is ridiculed for the crime of smelling like "bacon no matter how much he washed" (Vonnegut 44). These past occurrences lead Weary to become vengeful during his adulthood, feeling that everyone but he is at fault for his adversity. Had Weary's child and adolescent years been filled with classic puerile bliss rather than misery, his bitter adulthood would never have surfaced, thus confirming that Weary's sour history plays a part in Billy's ultimate doom. The history motif appears once more while Billy is conversing with his daughter Barbara, in whom Billy confides that he does not "think the time [is] ripe" (Vonnegut 38), referring to the period before Billy suffers damage to the skull. Billy's past, though much more peaceful than that of Weary, is splattered with important happenings – the most significant of which is Billy's adventure on Tralfamadore. It is not Billy's injury that compels him to become outspoken about his trip and his discoveries, but rather his history and the realization that what he now knows can benefit the whole of humankind. Ironically, Billy's history eventually causes his assassination. The five German soldiers who spot Roland Weary in the process of paralyzing Billy wonder why "one American would try to murder another" (Vonnegut...