Post-War Insanity Essay

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Post-war Insanity

“This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of

tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from.” Insanity is

a major theme in Kurt Vonnegut’s life and in turn his novels tend to be a release

for his thoughts of mental illness. Vonnegut’s characters tend to embody him

or at least characteristics of himself. His characters generally suffer from mild

insanity and therefore hints that Vonnegut himself is possibly mildly insane. In

each of his novels there are characters that are highly related to Vonnegut such

as Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, and Eliot Rosewater. Each of these characters

appear in different novels to help develop the plot and continue the relative
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top of that he doubts his own judgement. “He had fallen asleep at work. It had

been funny at first. Now Billy was starting to get worried about it, about his mind

in general. He tried to remember how old he was, couldn’t. He tried to remember

what year it was. He couldn’t remember that either.” (Slaughterhouse-Five 56)

These flashbacks are told later in better detail, “…for he was simultaneously on

foot in Germany in 1944 and riding his Cadillac in 1967. Germany dropped away,

and 1967 became bright and clear.” (Slaughterhouse-Five His flashbacks

happened at any time, even while driving, indicating a severe case of Post-

Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Apathy is also a major problem with the traumas of

war. This apathy could be related to the apathy experienced after war or its

following flashbacks. Many things do not concern Billy Pilgrim as he has

disassociated himself from the world. He no longer lives in what we refer to as

reality. “…both found life meaningless, partly because of what they had seen in

the war.” (Slaughterhouse-Five 101) Common day life has become too difficult to

deal with, hence the lack of emotion Billy has. In dealing with this post-war

trauma, Billy becomes “unstuck in time.” He mentally travels through time to a

place where he more is more comfortable being. He avoids all touch with reality.

Eliot Rosewater is another Vonnegut
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