OR THE CHILDRENS CRUSADE
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 deals with being in the war differently than others in my opinion. After the war Billy returns to Ilium New York and tries to live a normal life. He still struggles obviously with his war experiences; he is so haunted by the memories of fighting and the destruction of Dresden that he has a nervous breakdown and voluntarily checks himself into a mental hospital. When he is in the hospital, Billy begins to contemplate his ability to travel through time. He is often taken to his past and to his future; however, the most frequent trip is back to Germany and the war.
The advice I would give to him is; he needs to find a different way to explain to people. He looks as if he can not tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction. So people are less likely to listen, unless he changes the way he explain.
As for me and Billy Pilgrim being friends. I do not really think I would be able to be friends with him. He is a little weird for me. I could not just sit and listen to him rambling on and on. The time travel thing is just a little much for me. I believe that I could learn to be more open minded from Billy. I would maybe teach Billy to be a little more tactful when he is telling people about the planet of Trafalmadore.