Billy PilgrimHershey Flores
Billy Pilgrim: Time Traveler Wonder or Mind Disorder?
Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five spent a tremendous amount of time, traveling through his experiences in life between World War II and his memories before and after the war. The story tells the war through Billy Pilgrim’s personal memories, historical research, and travel with Billy’s time in the war to Dresden; the area of his most painful experiences through life. Throughout the story Billy has trouble controlling when and where he will be in time. “Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next” (pg 23). He could travel through the past, or future, life at the Optometry School, parts before the bombing of Dresden, or his time with the Tralfamadorians. He never knows. Billy Pilgrim’s thoughts roam around, believing the only cure is to have belief in the Tralfamadorians. “All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist… The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments.” (pg. 27). That death, free will, and time itself are illusions and are structured that way on purpose. Though Billy Pilgrim feels like he is actually traveling back into his other memories, he is instead experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disorder caused by the trauma of the war. Its symptoms include constant painful memories, reoccurring nightmares, and sleep disturbances. “There is no order in tragedy,” but the tragedy isn't necessarily about the war in Germany. Billy also considers as a tragic of his childhood past and his mind being dysfunctional as a result to the plane crash as well.
In the beginning of Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim is introduced as a World War II veteran who claims that he has “come unstuck in time”...