Slaughterhouse Five

A Look at Billy Pilgrim’s Mental State College

In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five we are taken through the strange life of a Mr. Billy Pilgrim. The story revolves primarily around Billy’s time in Germany during WWII but also several other points in Billy’s life. What the reader will immediately notice is the strange ordering of events in the novel which is quickly explained as an effect of Billy Pilgrim becoming “unstuck in time”. This may very well be the first indication [MK1] that something is not exactly right with our protagonist and as we read on one may notice similarly alarming indicators such as Billy’s seemingly hopeless outlook on life[MK2] , his inability to discuss death, and his later abduction by the aliens he calls Tralfmadorians. It does not take long to come to the conclusion that Billy suffers from some sort of mental illness, possibly attributed to the war.

Upon further analysis of the novel and a psychiatric look at Billy’s mental state some claim that Billy suffers from an acute form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This position is argued by writer Susanne Vees-Gulani in her article “Diagnosing Billy Pilgrim: A Physiatrist Approach to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five” In which she states “…criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD help...

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