Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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In Slaughterhouse-Five, explain the significance of Billy Pilgrim's becoming unstuck in time.

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Slaughterhouse-Five is a largely anti-war text showing not only the terrible physical destruction that war can bring, as in the firebombing of Dresden, but also the psychological trauma that a soldier endures long after he has returned home. Vonnegut provides the reader with an illustration of one manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder through the novel’s protagonist . Though Billy Pilgrim survived the war, he is doomed to relive his experiences even after he attempts to get on with his life by establishing a career, getting married, and starting a family. The fact that Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck in time” is a plot device that serves to contrast the stark differences in Pilgrim’s mundane civilian life as an optometrist, husband, and father with the confusing and painful experience of life as a soldier and prisoner of war. It also illustrates Pilgrim’s difficulty in moving on and accepting this new life, as his mind continues to wander into the past, thereby mixing...

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