“She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarrassed and ungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn’t really like life at all.”Pg. 102
Nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I got from this quote. It was as if I could feel the pain from Billy– the disdain for the world for making him go through what he had to, the contradictory love and dislike towards his mother for giving him a life he no longer cares to live. It’s heart-shattering.
I’m only halfway through this masterpiece of a novel, and I’ve never been more profoundly moved by a book before this one. I’ve read many works, all from a wide array of genres– young adult, fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction, and many more. I’ve loved many of these novels, too– Blood Meridian(Thanks, Mr. Ferguson), A Prayer for Owen Meany(And thank you, Dr. Ferguson), The Mortal Instruments series, Red Queen series, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and more. I’ve cried to all the books I’ve listed, as these books have all shaken me to the core, but Slaughterhouse-Five is different. I’ve teared up over Vonnegut’s novel, but I have yet to shed a full tear. However, this book is cutting me in ways no other book has. It’s leaving its mark in my heart and soul. It’s scarring me with horrifying realizations. It’s doing what no other book has yet to do– It’s influencing me.
Enough with the heartfelt insight. Let’s get onto the actual chapter.
This chapter jumps around considerably, as Billy is still time-traveling. In this chapter, I’m finally able to see Billy in his Tralfamadorian zoo habitat. He is constantly kept naked, and he is watched with fascination by the inhabitants of Tralfamadore. We also see Billy with his wife and again as a prisoner of war.
Now, I know I’ve already talked about Billy Pilgrim’s delusion of Tralfamadorians and how they are a result of his PTSD from the war. I know you guys are probably tired of reading about it, but does that mean I’m going to stop talking about it? Absolutely not. Now, if you still aren’t convinced with my Tralfamadorian-PTSD hypothesis, I have even more evidence for you. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
If you guys recall from my last post, I started the blog entree with a quote from page… wait, let me check real quick… 77 that shows the Tralfamadorians stating “Why you?… Why anything?” Here comes the evidence for my theory. On page 91, after Billy witnesses an altercation between a prisoner of war and a Russian guard, something interesting happens.
“‘Why me?’ he asked the guard.
The guard shoved him back into ranks. ‘Vy you? Vy anybody?’ he said.”
Are you guys seeing the correlation? No? Yeah, me neither.
I don’t really have a huge point that I want to spend this entire blog post talking about. Instead, I have little points that I’m going to jump around to, one being a quote from page 97. An Englishman, while examining Billy, states, “My God–what have they done to you, lad? This isn’t a man. It’s a broken kite.”
The transition from being referred to as a man, a human being that cries, laughs, loves, and hates, to being referred to as “It” is gravely upsetting for me. I’ve grown to love Billy Pilgrim, and I’ve become heavily invested in the story that is his life. To hear Billy being spoken to almost as if he’s a shattered vase, “broken,” is stomach-clenching. It reminds me of a song by a heavy metal band by the name of Five Finger Death Punch that touches on the topic of how veterans are treated in society.
Another important point I want to touch on is a quote by Billy on page 116 that writes, “I myself have seen the bodies of schoolgirls who were boiled alive in a water tower by my countrymen.”
It’s hard. To read this is extremely hard. To stomach the words is almost impossible. Being a schoolgirl myself, I’ve never imagined myself being boiled alive for no reason. Imagine it, though. Take a second to just imagine it, to imagine the pain.
This too, like the quote that came on page 97, reminds me of one of my favorite songs. Being an anti-war song, along with the background to the song, it ties perfectly with this quote. After hearing about the bombing in Warrington, England, that claimed the lives of two young boys by the names of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, The Cranberries wrote song that influenced the hearts of many, including mine. The lyrics are haunting. The video is chilling. The song moves mountains. It breaks hearts.
The theme continues. Vonnegut wants us to see how people are treated in war. He wants us to see what they have to experience. He wants us to sympathize. He wants us to realize how God awful war is, how it claims the lives and sanity of millions. And, Lord, does Vonnegut do a marvelous job at that. Onto chapter six. I’ll talk to you guys later!