Theme of Absurdity in Slaughterhouse-5

Essay by oneinsangrlHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2004

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The Absurdity of Free Will

While living in Tralfamadore and learning about the inhabitants' way of thinking, Billy Pilgrim sees that the aliens believe that nothing can be changed and that free will is a ridiculous idea. Billy comes to understand their reasoning, which eases his guilt, yet takes away his emotions. Through taking away the pain and tragedy of war, Billy looses his humanity. The Tralfamadorians, an alien race who abducted Billy on the night of his daughter's wedding, taught him that the human concept of free will was strange and unique: " 'If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings,' said the Tralfamadorian, 'I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited plants in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will' " (86).

"How-how did I get here?" "It would take another Earthling to explain it to you.

Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings of explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber" (85-86)

"The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians...