Slaughterhouse Five

chapter 2

what do you think is the significance of giving billy the last name "pilgrim"

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Billy's name is a symbol of his innocence. He chooses the child's form, "Billy" rather than "William," and his last name of Pilgrim has symbolic significance. He is on a journey, and "pilgrim" here strongly intimates innocence. He is more like a naïve traveler than a warrior or hardened ascetic. He is not a conventional war hero. Vonnegut chooses to make Billy weak, fearful, incompetent, and mentally unstable. He refuses to glorify war by creating a glamorous hero; instead, he gives us Billy.