Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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The Circle of Death Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.” Vonnegut’s character, Billy Pilgrim, did just that. As the main character in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy was in World War II. After the war, he is captured by the alien species of the Tralfamadorians, where he learns that time is not what it seems. Although some readers may see that gaining the ability to time travel caused Billy to appreciate life, the ability caused Billy to feel little to no emotion about anything, which also caused him to become detached from his story. Billy fianlly understands his ability to time travel after gaining knowledge from the Tralfamadorians about the nature of…show more content…
For example, his wife, Valencia, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the beginning of the book, Billy said, “While Billy was recuperating in a hospital in Vermont, his wife died accidentally of carbon-monoxide poisoning. So it goes” (Vonnegut 25). Billy never dwelt on Valencia's passing; in fact, later in the novel, he hardly had any reaction at all to the news that his wife had passed. Billy saw Valencia quite often, when he became unstuck in time. This caused an emotional detachment from death because Billy thinks it is merely a part of life; it is not permanent. However, Billy no longer saw the value in life because he knew he would see his loved ones once more, which added to his overall bitterness about it all. Billy had also seen himself die a great number of times. The immense repetition of death in Billy's life also caused him to become desensitized to death itself because it becomes routine again. To Billy, this again detracts from the meaning of life. Because Billy is stuck in the never ending loop of witnessing himself die many times and then returning again, emotions were eliminated from Billy’s life entirely. The ability to time travel also caused Billy to become detached from life. Perhaps this is why Billy only found peace in death. “Billy sat in the back of the jiggling coffin” (Vonnegut 194). The coffin was a wagon in reality, but Billy said that he would choose
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