Is Billy Pilgrim Sane? Essay

August 20, 2017 History

Billy Pilgrim plays a really influential function as the chief character in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5. Since the novel is based wholly on Billy Pilgrim’s interaction with the environment around him. nailing Billy’s province of saneness on the graduated table of normalcy helps the reader find what is truly go oning. and what is a figment of Billy’s imaginativeness. Before doing the determination sing Billy’s province of head. one must foremost set up the parametric quantities of what is considered sane and what is non. What one individual may see insane another may see pure mastermind. The dictionary definition of ‘sane’ is: free from mental mental unsoundness ; holding a sound. healthy head. However the general consensus for ‘sane’ is a batch closer to: holding or demoing ground. sound judgement. or good sense. Once those guidelines are set up. one can continue to analyse Billy’s province of mental wellness. Since Billy is a fictional character in a book and the adult male who wrote the book is dead. the lone information available to person seeking to analyse Billy is through Billy’s actions/thoughts/experiences and the guesss of other readers.

Fortunately one is non required to dig really deep into Billy’s past before coming across calamity. At a really immature age Billy is thrust into the center of World War Two. He is sick equipped and has no contending preparation or experience. During the conflict of the Bulge Billy becomes lost with one other soldier and two lookouts. While boosting through the undergrowth in German district Billy is overcome with cold and delaies for the contingency that is decease to go through over him and take his psyche from his organic structure. Alternatively Billy becomes what the storyteller describes as “unstuck” in clip. This is the first clip that Billy of all time experiences ‘time travel’ . There are at least two ways to construe this scene. In the first 1. the reader assumes that Billy is in daze. is hallucinating. and has a really obscure connexion with the outside universe. This idea is followed by the following logical thought that since Billy is about incapacitated. anything odd he experienced in this clip frame did non really go on. However every Yin has a Yang. The 2nd manner this could be interpreted is that Billy’s head has lost touch of world to the point it sheds its boundaries sing clip. liberating Billy from the human confines of sing clip in a additive manner. Since the determination sing Billy’s saneness is based strictly on a reader’s personal sentiment.

A reader would make good to make a mental tally chart of notes. If the first reading makes more sense. merely put a grade in the ‘insane’ column. nevertheless if the 2nd reading floats your boat. do a grade in the ‘sane’ column. Between the first major happening and the 2nd. Billy is faced with minor issues that may or may non play an influential function on Billy’s province of head and so even though they play minor functions. it is of import that they are mentioned and taken into history. While Billy is a captive of war he is treated ill. underfed. maintain in a crowded train auto full of viral and bacterial diseases and scented with the touch of decease. It is during this clip that Billy manages to do the full train auto hatred him. doing him to pull farther into the safety of his head. Whether this train sit really affected Billy or non is up to the reader to make up one’s mind.

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The second of Billy’s major experiences that carries the capableness to instil a mental unwellness in an otherwise healthy being would be the bombardment of Dresden. While Billy was being used for labor in Dresden. his ain state fire bombed him along with the remainder of a metropolis full of civilians. Billy waited out the bombardment in an belowground meat ice chest along with a group of other POW’s and their guards. After the land had cooled. the POW’s emerged from their safe oasis and was faced with what can be described as the moon’s surface. Billy was finally ordered to assist roll up the organic structures for a mass entombment. Now. whether it was sitting belowground hearing to an full metropolis being levelled. or the retrieval of dead organic structures or both that scarred Billy. it is difficult to cognize. However Billy did hold a flashback of the bombardment during his 18th nuptials day of remembrance that caused him to gross out out. However there is no direct grounds that the bombardment caused Billy to travel insane and merely the reader can make up one’s mind if it was pertinent to his mental stableness or non. Another traumatising incident endured by Billy was the combination of him being the exclusive subsister of a plane clang followed by his wife’s prematurely decease.

While Billy was on his manner to an optometry convention with several other oculists. the plane he is on clangs. He is the lone subsister and is rushed to the infirmary. When Billy’s married woman hears what happened. she rushes to the infirmary. On her manner there she ends up crashing the auto and loses her exhaust system. She ends up deceasing of Carbon Monoxide poisoning right as she stops in forepart of the infirmary. Because of Billy’s changeless time-travelling. he ne’er truly cognize his married woman excessively good so the odds of him experiencing excessively distraught because of her decease are truly rather minimum. Besides because he has adopted the Tralfamadorian position of decease. he would likely merely conceive of that now she is in a better topographic point in her life.

So even though this may non be the happiest point in Billy’s life. in this author’s sentiment. it is dubious that it has altered his province of head. nevertheless everyone is entitled to their ain sentiment and so a reader may construe otherwise. Although looking at Billy’s yesteryear may give intimations as to his saneness. looking at his existent ideas would be a batch more helpful in doing the concluding determination.


Findley. Timothy. The Wars. New York: Penguin Group Australia. 1977.


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