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Time In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five

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Much like money, time is a human construct. Human beings created the concept of time to organize the events of their lives in a continuous, chronological order. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, depicts a different interpretation of time and the organization of events in Billy Pilgrim’s life. Billy Pilgrim’s life is broken up into brief events, and Vonnegut writes the events out of chronological sequence, which adds a unique flair to an already distinctive work of literature. In addition, Vonnegut includes the Trafalmadore alien’s perception of time to further solidify the theme in his work. Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, showcases the theme of time through its unique organization in the timeline of the story and in its mention…show more content…
Time is a very prevalent theme in Slaughterhouse Five, as it influences the way in which Vonnegut orders the events of the novel, and it is the basis for the Trafalmadorian perspective on life. Historically, train engineers used pocket watches to ensure the punctuality of the train’s arrival. This way, the train conductors could monitor the time at which their travelers arrived. I applied this concept to Slaughterhouse Five when interpreting the theme of time. In Vonnegut’s novel, Billy Pilgrim symbolizes the people traveling by train, since he traveled through time with the assistance of the Trafalmadore aliens. The Trafalmadore aliens can be compared to the train engineers, as they control Billy Pilgrim’s journey through time. However, my pocket watch lacks one main aspect that all pocket watches have: it does not have a functioning watch inside. Rather, the watch is stuck at 19:44. I chose this time because it symbolizes the first time Billy Pilgrim became unstuck in time. Vonnegut writes, “Billy says that he first came unstuck in time in 1944, long before the trip to Trafalmadore” (Vonnegut 30). This is a significant event in the novel as it describes Billy Pilgrim’s first encounter with the distortion of
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