The Indifference In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

Good Essays
There’s a saying, “Are you really living life … or are you just paying bills until you die?” How can something so morose even be a thought in an individual’s mind? However, this is how the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, approaches life. Billy has no self worth as he does not accept the philosophy of free will. Thus, he does nothing to affect or change any part of his miserable life. Vonnegut illustrates Billy’s indifference through the pathetic nature of Billy’s character as the temperature in Billy’s basement, which he does nothing to adjust, leads to his feet going numb. Using both diction and irony, Vonnegut divulges to the reader one of his personal beliefs on life; apathy causes one to lead a meaningless…show more content…
While Billy is writing his paper, the temperature in the rumpus room plummets. Vonnegut conveys how pathetic Billy is, through irony, by stating, “A mouse had eaten through the insulation of a wire leading to the thermostat” (35). The mouse is an ironic subject for initiating the extreme change in Billy’s condition/comfort. The temperature dropped to 50 degrees because a small and insignificant animal chewed on a wire, and Billy did absolutely nothing about the mouse or even the temperature. Again, the seeming indifference Billy has about his life is portrayed through the fact that even a creature of its diminutive size affected his welfare and he did not care. Vonnegut also uses irony to illustrate Billy’s apathy towards his apparel. While Billy was writing his letter, Vonnegut demonstrates his apathetic nature: “He was barefoot, and still in his pajamas and a bathrobe, though it was late afternoon” (65). By using irony, Vonnegut shows how little Billy cares about his wellbeing. Even though the majority of the day has ended, Billy isn’t interested in getting dressed or even putting shoes on. Even though he is at his home, he feels no dire need to present himself. Billy is very pathetic and puts no effort into doing anything in his life. Not only does he evade fixing his heater or dealing with rodents in his house, but he doesn't even put appropriate clothes on; he has no self worth. By evading simple things, Vonnegut demonstrates Billy’s lack of interest and how that leads him to do nothing of importance in his
Get Access