Free Will In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

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As author Isaac Bashevis Singer once said, “We must believe in free will, we have no choice” (Brainy Quote). While many philosophers do not believe in free will, most, like Singer, acknowledge its necessity for moral accountability, or “the [status of] a moral agent [being] blameworthy or praiseworthy for some particular action” (Eshleman). However, Vonnegut illustrates his beliefs that people have the capacity to change their perceptions and are morally obligated to do so. In Kurt Vonnegut’s antiwar novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, becomes “unstuck in time” as he revisits his traumatic World War II experiences. Vonnegut’s war experiences are similar, but his reactions are different. By contrasting Billy’s reactions with his own, Vonnegut conveys his…show more content…
The Tralfalmadorians’ belief in fate demonstrates the idea that one should accept the things that cannot be changed. When Billy is abducted by these aliens, they explain to Billy that there is no such thing as free will. The aliens are able to see into the fourth dimension, where “‘[all] events are structured’” or preordained (Vonnegut 85). They believe that no one has control over his or her destiny because the future always exists a certain way. Billy uses this philosophy to help himself cope with the realities of death and war. The incidents in his life support this philosophy because many of them counteract his free will. For instance, when Billy’s father throws him into the deep end of a pool to
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