Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder In Slaughterhouse-Five

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Audience: anyone who has read Slaughterhouse-Five and wants to achieve a deeper understanding of the text
Purpose: to argue that Billy Pilgrim detaches his feelings from death and creates the alien planet of Tralfamadore to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Title: Slaughterhouse-Five: The Tale of a World War II Veteran Trying to Cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) Kurt Vonnegut
For twenty-first century readers of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, it is obvious that serving in World War II had a significant impact on Billy Pilgrim’s mental state. Although soldiers returning from war are commonly diagnosed with …show more content…

It is not possible for Billy to have schizophrenia, so PTSD is the correct diagnosis (Vees-Gulani 2).

Throughout Slaughterhouse-Five Billy experiences many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Billy often has flashbacks and re-experiences the phenomenon of war (Iribarren, et al. 2; Bisson 4).
Billy had “psychosomatic responses” to a singing barbershop quartet at his anniversary party (Vonnegut 172-173).
Billy is giving a speech to fellow Lions Club members when he suddenly returns back to war and is about to get assaulted by Roland Weary (Vonnegut 50).
After his plane crashes into a mountain Billy thinks that skiers are part of a new phase of World War II (Vonnegut 156-157).
Avoiding thoughts and conversations, detaching feelings, and having a sense of a foreshortened future are symptoms of PTSD (Bisson 4).
Billy uses avoidance and “psychic numbing” as protection (Vees-Gulani 5).
Vonnegut thinks that war is inevitable (Vonnegut 4).
Billy knows when he is going to die (Vonnegut 141-142).
Billy tries to avoid talking to his wife about the war (Vonnegut …show more content…

The descriptions of the terrible deaths during the war were followed by this phrase.
Pilgrim and Rosewater, both World War II veterans, think life is meaningless because of what they saw in the war (Vonnegut 101).
Candles at the POW camp were made from the fat of Jews, Gypsies, communists, and fairies (Vonnegut 96).
Billy is indifferent to the deaths of people close to him.
Billy’s father dies in a hunting accident (Vonnegut 24).
Everyone is killed in a plane crash but Billy and Valencia dies of carbon-monoxide poisoning on the way to the hospital (Vonnegut 25).
Billy compares Paul Lazzaro to a rabid dog that would be shot (Vonnegut 143-144).
The champagne is “dead” because it didn’t pop (Vonnegut 73).

By creating the alien planet of Tralfamadore, Billy is able to convince himself that the death and destruction he has witnessed is inevitable.
Both Pilgrim and Rosewater use science fiction to make sense of the chaos (Diwany 85; Vees-Gulani 5).
The Tralfamadorians shape Billy’s beliefs about time and death and even influence some of his actions.
The Tralfamadorians explain time to Billy and tell him that the end of the universe is predestined (Vonnegut

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