Science Fiction: the Vessel for Fatalism
Throughout Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut creates an environment shaped by elements of science fiction. These elements, notably time travel and alien contact, make the novel "a science fiction that deals with the topic of free will versus fatalism," (Isaacs 408). Throughout the novel Billy remains "unstuck in time," seeing his whole life flash before his eyes in a random order of events (Vonnegut 15). This random order forces the reader to examine the events in the novel the same way that a Tralfamadorian would, adding to the element of science fiction. Because of the creative freedom associated with the science fiction genre, Vonnegut uses it to express a theme of fatalism in the novel and "as a way of making those ideas [presented] more palatable," (Lundquist 616).
Science fiction offers a powerful creative license to the author. It allows him to create situations that would never occur in other genres, but still lets the reader consider even the most outrageous of events with the same seriousness associated with realistic scenarios.
In Slaughterhouse-Five, the Tralfamadorians who kidnap Billy Pilgrim simultaneously teach both Billy and the reader about their radical way of perceiving time. Unlike humans who only experience life one moment at a time, Tralfamadorians see everything that occurs in the past, present, and future. Life remains static and unchanging, the events that occur cannot change. As an extreme example presented, the Tralfamadorians know how the universe will end but do nothing to stop it. Neil D. Isaacs explains that "it is important to remember that each moment 'is structured' the way it happens, to accept everything, and to desire nothing different," (Isaacs 409). This fatalism traps humans into set destinies and removes the aspect of free will from their life. How can...