Andrea Solis Tinajero
AP English IV
17 March 2015
In “SlaughterhouseFive”, Kurt Vonnegut takes us on a trip through time with the character Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim has been taken by Tralfamadorians to their planet
Tralfamadore to display him in a zoo. There, Billy learns their four dimensional view on life and the universe.
“That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones” (Vonnegut, 117). We are presented with the Tralfamadorians view on humans: we worry too much about “moments” in time, when their belief is that all moments are strung together. Billy’s creation of these aliens and their planet displays how the war has severely impacted him and his ability to keep his grasp to reality. The tragedies he has faced in the real world are too much for him to digest, so t he most
important idea portrayed by Billy Pilgrim and the Tralfamadorians is that of fate and freewill.
We see how the his new perspective on fate and freewill influences Billy Pilgrim throughout his journey after the war.
One of the first things taught to Billy when he arrives at Tralfamadore is that free will is nonexistent. They are firm believers of fate; they think our lives are predetermined and there is no way of changing it. By accepting the idea that free will is nonexistent, “he is trying to find a way to carry on in the face of the incapacitating loss and pain produced by the war” (Coleman,
Once he learns that no one’s ever had any control over any incident at any point in time:
“Everything is alright, and everybody has to do exactly what he does” (Vonnegut, 198), he uses
that knowledge to overcome his past.
In his newly developed view on life, humans tend to believe that they are practicing free will by making their own choices; however that choice has already been made.
The most repeated phrase in the book, “and so it goes”, used countless times as a way to
excuse everything that occurs, belittling any effect it may cause no matter how inconsequential or harsh the situation at hand may be. That phrase highlights the tralfamadorian, and now Billy
Pilgrims belief on free will. The main character, Billy Pilgrim utilizes “and so it goes”, in a way to show that he has no control over anything that occurs so he doesn’t even bother to worry.
When he is telling a story about death in the book he says “It killed everyone on the gun brew but Weary. So it goes.” (Vonnegut 33), also when Christ dies, and during the Dresden bombing.
We see a crossover of Earthling experiences and Tralfamadorian ideals. Billy Pilgrim uses his encounters with them as an outlet to excuse anything and everything that goes on during his time. The idea taught to him by the Tralfamadorians allow Billy Pilgrim to see himself as a…