Billy Pilgrim's Coping Mechanisms In Slaughterhouse Five

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Billy’s Coping Mechanisms Billy Pilgrim, the main character of Slaughterhouse Five, was a survivor of the destruction in Dresden during World War II and a Prisoner of War. As a result of the effects of having been a Prisoner of War, and having been a witness to the full immensity of destruction, it can be inferred that Billy Pilgrim suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder throughout the novel, which caused him to examine the events of war over and over throughout the course of his life. In order to comprehend how these components, witnessing the destruction of Dresden, being a Prisoner of War, and PTSD, impacted Billy Pilgrim, Kurt Vonnegut incorporates the Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse Five to display Billy Pilgrim's coping mechanism…show more content…
In fact, according to Charles Kaiman in his journal article PTSD in the World War II Combat Veteran, “PTSD is a syndrome of responses to extremely disturbing, often life-threatening events—combat, natural disaster, torture, or rape—that fall outside of usual experience. While not all combat veterans developed PTSD, there’s a correlation between it and combat exposure. In fact PTSD occurs in as many as three out of five combat veterans”(32). Throughout the novel Billy shows signs of suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is known that Billy gets nightmares when he falls asleep an example of this is when he falls asleep in the boxcar in Germany that's taking him to a POW camp, the other prisoners don't want to sleep next to him due to his whimpering and kicking. He startles easily: when he hears a siren going off in Chapter 3, Section 6, he jumps and worries that World War III is coming: “A siren went off, scared the hell out of him. He was expecting World War Three at any time”(Kurt Vonnegut 57). One of the most distinguished symptoms of PTSD was the reliving of frightful past experiences that become literal in Billy's eyes as he travels back and forth in time. And according to Kevin Brown in his journal article, The Psychiatrists Were Right: Anomic Alienation in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five, “Vonnegut tell…show more content…
In Slaughterhouse Five, the Tralfamadorians provided Billy Pilgrim with an easy way of dealing with the tragedies he’d encounter. They informed Billy of their philosophy of death: “When the Tralfamadorians sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes’”(Kurt Vonnegut 27). The quote ‘So it goes’ is quite relevant in the Slaughterhouse Five because it is repeated after Vonnegut announces a death. It can be concluded that Kurt Vonnegut decided to incorporate this to show Billy Pilgrim’s numbness to trauma because of the PTSD he is dealing with. It is not common that Billy reacted with no emotion to his own wife’s death because that is as the closest person to him, and yet he still added ‘So it goes’ after he found out she had passed away. But, it is clear that Billy uses the Tralfamadorians philosophy of death as a coping mechanism for
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