To Tell Trauma: Billy’s Time Travel in Slaughterhouse-Five

Qing ZONG

Abstract


Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five depicts a story where its male protagonist Billy has come unstuck in time and therefore travels back and forth between the past, the present, and the future and even been hijacked to an alien planet called Tralfamadore. However, under the disguise of such a sci-fi fantasy, the author Vonnegut deliberately leaves readers many hints that Billy’s time-travel experience is less a scientific fantasy than a traumatic narrative. Therefore, this article aims to explore how Vonnegut manages to make use of this time-travel story to convey the messages about Billy’s post-traumatic stress disorder and the two major causes of his traumatic experiences, and then to figure out why this master take painstaking efforts to choose this scientific time-travel story instead of conveying the traumatic elements much more directly. After the detailed analysis, a more sympathetic understanding of how badly the crucial war as well as the alienation among people can impact one’s psychological condition can be reached.

 


Keywords


Time travel; Traumatic narrative; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Causes; Kurt Vonnegut

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References


Caruth, C. (1996). Unclaimed experience. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.

Leys, R. (2000). Trauma: A genealogy. Chicago: U of Chicago P..

Richard Todd (1971, January 24). The Masks of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.. New York Times Magazine, p.7

Vonnegut. K. (1968). Slaughterhouse-five. New York: Dell Publishing.

Whitehead, A. (2008). Memory: The new critical idiom. London: Routledge.

Wicks, A. (2014). “All This Happened, More or Less”: The Science fiction of Trauma in Slaughterhouse-Five. Louisiana State University.

Wittenberg, D. (2013). Time travel: The popular philosophy of narrative. New York: Fordham University Press.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/11327

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