Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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What kind of man is Billy Pilgrim in "Slaughterhouse-Five"? Why does Kurt Vonnegut choose to make a man like Pilgrim the protagonist of his novel?  

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Anu Varik eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Billy Pilgrim is exactly the sort of character that Kurt Vonnegut would make his protagonist, especially in Slaughterhouse-Five. The author is known for his anti-war sentiments that underline most of his writing, which leads him to counter-act almost everything about the average war novel. He uses a lot of autobiographical material. For example, Vonnegut personally lived through the firebombing of Dresden—which Billy Pilgrim also survives—that marked the most traumatic experience of his life. For that reason, Vonnegut uses the character of Billy Pilgrim to illustrate his philosophy about war, death, and reality.

Broadly speaking, most war novels can be categorized as one of the following two: those that were written by people who have actually been in a war and those that were written by people who clearly haven't. Vonnegut belongs in the former. There is nothing glorious about war in his vision. There is no poetic justice, and most importantly, the soldiers don't follow a dramatic...

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