Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

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In the following excerpt, Vanderwerken discusses Billy Pilgrim, focusing on the causes of his breakdown and how he is influenced by Tralfamadorianism.

The reader's central problem in comprehend­ing Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five lies in cor­rectly understanding the source of Billy Pilgrim's madness. Vonnegut continually undercuts our will­ing suspension of disbelief in Billy's time travel by offering multiple choices for the origin of Billy's imbalance: childhood traumas, brain damage from his plane crash, dreams, his shattering war experi­ences, and plain old fantasy. Yet if, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed, only a "first-rate intelli­gence" has the "ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function," an inquiry into the two opposed philosophical systems that Pilgrim holds in his mind- Tralfamadorianism and Christianity-may lead us to the fundamental cause of Billy's...

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This section contains 2,071 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Slaughterhouse-Five Study Guide
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Slaughterhouse-Five from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.