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Transcript of Slaughterhouse Five
Billy realized that he had been repressing memories of what he went through. "Here was proof that he had a great big secret somewhere inside..." (173)
"...they were two feet high, and green, and shaped like plumber's friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each hand was a little hand with a green eye in its palm." (26)
The Creation of Tralfamadore
So it goes.
This was Billy's mantra throughout the book, and the Tralfamadorian view on death. "...the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but...is just fine in plenty of other moments."(27)
While cleaning up in Dresden, Billy would have seen terrible sights that he would have had to force into his subconscious in order to continue, so the suction cups could represent everything that he brought back up when he remembered what happened.
In Dresden, some of the bodies were buried under rubble, which the soldiers dug up as "corpse mines" (214). In all probability, there would have been hands sticking up from piles of rubble, which could explain why the Tralfamadorians looked like stretching hands.
"It was like the moon."(179)
"Absolutely everybody in the city was supposed to be dead, regardless of what they were...anybody that moved in it represented a flaw in the design." (180)
"He was taken to Tralfamadore, where he was displayed naked in a zoo, he said. He was mated there with a former Earthling movie star named Montana Wildhack"(25)
"The naked Americans took their places under many showerheads along a white-tiled wall."(84)
They were treated like animals when they were captured, and lost any sort of free will that they had. This is later reflected by the Tralfamadorians not "believ[ing] in free will" (86).
"Billy did what he was told, took off all his clothes. That was the first thing they told him to do on Tralfamadore too."(83)
Once again, Billy's (and Vonnegut's) experiences in Dresden strongly parallel what occurred in Tralfamadore.
The Tralfamadorians were Billy's coping device; they made him not have to feel guilty about what he had done in Dresden, because they told him it was all fated to happen and he couldn't have done anything about it.
In the veterans' hospital, Rosewater introduces Billy to Kilgore Trout's writing. Each was trying to repress and justify what they had seen and done in the war.
"So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a big help."(101)
Billy went to a dirty book shop and discovered that he had read a Kilgore Trout book in the veterans' hospital that "was about an Earthling man and woman who were put on display in a zoo on a planet called Zircon-212."(201)
The fact that he had read a book about exactly what had "happened" to him implies that it was all in his head.
These horrific experiences caused Billy and many other veterans to develop PTSD, undiagnosed and untreated. Billy and his fellow WWII veterans had to come up with their own ways of dealing with the war. For Billy that was Tralfamadore.
When a German soldier takes an American out of line and hits him, the American asks, "Why me?" and
the German responds, "Vy you? Vy anybody?"(91)
When Billy is taken by the flying saucer he asks,
They answer with,
"Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is." (76)
This reflects what the German told the American during the war, giving further proof to the idea that Tralfamadore was born out of Billy's experiences in Dresden.
Billy felt trapped in both Illium and Tralfamadore. In Illium he had to conform, go to collage, get married, get a job, have kids. On Tralfamadore he was literally trapped in a bubble, but he felt more free there than he had in Illium.
:) we're done :)
1945 Dresden Bombing Newsreel
The Tralfamadorians poke fun at human beings for not being able to see time, as nothing really matters for those who know what will happen. Thus, no matter what someone does, it was fated to happen and not one's own fault.
This comforted Billy to think that everything was out of his control.