"Unstuck in Time" Meaning: Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse-Five'

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Being Unstuck in Time in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut The concept of being "unstuck in time" refers to a person living from one moment in life to another instead of the day-to-day one we live today. The main character of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim, does just that. He travels through the time line of his life experiencing moments of it in no particular order. In a flash, time travel for Billy happens with no warning to where he will turn up next. On the night of his daughter's wedding, Billy is abducted by extra-terrestrials from the planet Tralfamadore. They enlighten him on the concept of being "unstuck in time." Their belief is that, "When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that…show more content…
Moments in Billy's life change instantaneously, not giving Billy a clue to where he will end up next. In one moment, he is sitting in his home typing a letter to the local newspaper about his experience with the Tralfamadorians, and in the next he is a lost soldier of World War II running around behind German lines aimlessly without a coat or proper shoes. He then became a child being thrown into a pool by his father and afterwards a forty-one year old man visiting his mother in an old people's home. In the novel, changes in time are made through transitional statements such as, "Billy traveled in time, opened his eyes, found himself staring into the glass eyes of a jade green mechanical owl." p.56 In the movie there is no such thing and different moments in Billy's life happen instantaneously. Because scenes are continuous as times change, the movie better displays the author's attempt to capture in the notion of being "unstuck in time." On the other hand, the novel does help the audience follow these time changes better by setting it up for the next scene, offering a background of Billy's experiences before they begin through these transitional statements. Another difference between the two is the way in which characters are presented. In the novel the audience is introduced to Billy's captive mate, Montana Whildhack, as she is first placed into the Tralfamadorian zoo. She is place in the cohabitation with Billy while she is unconscious and is filled
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