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The Effect of War on Billy Pilgrim's Mental State in Kurt Vonnegut's ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’

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In the novel, ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut to emphasize the horrific effects war can have on the health of a person internally and externally. When going through tough times Billy Pilgrim in the novel demonstrates these characteristics on how he has been affected mentally from the war. War can affect the mental state of an individual in ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by the way he acts in certain scenarios in the novel. How people around him are thinking he is “broken” and his family relationships with his family is falling apart. Such as when Billy Pilgrim is exploring through the feathers in Germany as the moments couldn’t get any worse two of the scouts abandoned Billy and he is left alone in this moment of terror. In the midst of war Billy travels to a time and place where he was happy and living a normal life “He was receiving a standing ovation from the Lions club. He had just been elected president” (Vonnegut 52). Billy mentally traveled to a place where he was not fearing for his life and cold but he was getting achievement from the Lions club to be the president. In the moment of him getting this award, he had to make a necessary speech. “He was scared stiff, thought a ghastly mistake had been made. All those prosperous, solid men out there would discover hear his reedy voice, the one he’d had in war” (Vonnegut 53). Billy was nervous but excited about this opportunity but he was scared that all the professional, rich people to find out that they elected a “ludicrous walf”. He also didn’t want to do the speech because he was fearing the people there would hear his “reedy voice”. Billy was on the podium with no words appearing to come out his mouth but then “Billy opened his mouth and out came a deep, resonant tone. His voice brought down the house. It grew serious, told jokes again and ended on a note of humility” (Vonnegut 53). Billy’s behavior in this way that that he mentally escaped a place where he was cold, depressed and terrified to an era where he was happy, positively nervous and happy about life. Where he had just won an achievement as the president.

There are many other reasons to how the war affected Billy Pilgrim’s mental state in this novel such as when. In the battle billy and other Amirian transportation were horses and when they noticed the physical health of the horses was very bad and unhealthy for them. The horse’s mouths were bleeding, gashed and also their hooves were broken. Billy’s reaction to this moment was very unusual due to the fact he has seen many gruesome images from the war. “When Billy saw the condition of his means of transportation, he burst into tears. He hadn’t cried about anything else in the ware” (Vonnegut 202). Billy never cried in his whole time in the war and he is most likely witnessed more awful scenarios in the war every day. One of Billy’s friends noticed that he was not mentally stable and that he may suffer from a mental condition called Echolalia because Billy keeps on repeating people diately. “Rumford simply insisted for his comfort, that billy had Rumford was thinking militarily: That an inconvenient person, one whose death he wished for very much” (Vonnegut 197). Billy wished death on himself very much maybe his mental state made him depressed and sad which can occur in P.T.S.D, Billy is unusually unhappy through the novel. In the novel, Billy’s professor said many things about how Billy was acting in front of him such as when the professor said “Billy no longer had any brain at all. Why don’t they let him die” (Vonnegut 197). Billy was showing very unusual traits in front of his professor, he was probably acting suicidal in front of him.

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Billy is getting expelled from professional speaking opportunities and losing emotional ties with his family because of the traits he is showing. Billy escaped from a hospital and drives to New York City to try to appear on a television show but couldn’t get in but get an opportunity to talk on the radio. “Then Billy was allowed to speak. Off he went, in that beautifully trained voice of his, telling about flying saucers and Montana Wildhack” (Vonnegut 212). Billy gets a chance to talk on the radio but he gets expelled after the commercial break because he starts talking about flying saucers and Montana Wildhack. Since Billy himself cannot make sense of his own life, he appears crazy to other people. Billy and his delusions of time traveling and having a normal conversation with his own state of mind but he thinks he’s talking to Montana Wildhack like she is a real human being. “Time traveling again”, said Montana it was an articulatio in the dome. She was breastfeeding their child. ‘Hmm?, – said Billy, – you’ve been time-traveling again; “Um…where did you go this time” – said Montana; “New York is The Big Apple” – said Billy (Vonnegut 212). Billy is having a normal conversation with a delusional person and having a regular talk with that person. While Billy is in the hospital his daughter visits him once in a while “She was all doped up, had the same glassy red-eyes look. Doctors had given her pills so she could continue to function even though her father was broken and mother dead” (Vonnegut 193). Billy’s daughter Barbara comes sees her “Broken” father with his mental health issues, using drugs is her coping method for her family’s trauma.

War can affect the mental health of an individual in ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim would go in an era where he is happy, very positive and living his best life, but in reality, he would be stranded in battle in the cold, depressing environment. His mental health would take effect on how people he did now know and how they talked to him and the things he did. He had a big effect on his family relationships on how his daughter was using drugs to cope with the tragedies with her parents. Billy Pilgrim’s mental health was affected by the war and battles he had gone through because of the following reasons above.

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The Effect of War on Billy Pilgrim’s Mental State in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effect-of-war-on-billy-pilgrims-mental-state-in-kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five/
“The Effect of War on Billy Pilgrim’s Mental State in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-effect-of-war-on-billy-pilgrims-mental-state-in-kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five/
The Effect of War on Billy Pilgrim’s Mental State in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effect-of-war-on-billy-pilgrims-mental-state-in-kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five/> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].
The Effect of War on Billy Pilgrim’s Mental State in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-effect-of-war-on-billy-pilgrims-mental-state-in-kurt-vonneguts-slaughterhouse-five/
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