Is Billy Pilgrim Sane?

Is Billy Pilgrim Sane?

View Full Essay Oliver Clothesoff
Mr. Freud
ENG 4U1
January 9, 2008
Is Billy Pilgrim Sane?
      Billy Pilgrim plays a very influential role as the main character in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5. Since the novel is based entirely on Billy Pilgrim’s interaction with the environment around him, pinpointing Billy’s state of sanity on the scale of normality helps the reader determine what is really happening, and what is a figment of Billy’s imagination.
      Before making the decision regarding Billy’s state of mind, one must first establish the parameters of what is considered sane and what is not. What one person may consider insane another may consider pure genius. The dictionary definition of ‘sane’ is: free from mental derangement; having a sound, healthy mind. However the general consensus for ‘sane’ is a lot closer to: having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.
      Once those guidelines are set up, one can proceed to analyze Billy’s state of mental health. Since Billy is a fictional character in a book and the man who wrote the book is dead, the only information available to someone trying to analyze Billy is through Billy’s actions/thoughts/experiences and the speculations of other readers. Luckily one is not required to delve very deep into Billy’s past before coming across tragedy. At a very young age Billy is thrust into the middle of World War Two. He is ill equipped and has no fighting training or experience. During the battle of the Bulge Billy becomes lost with one other soldier and two scouts. While hiking through the underbrush in German territory Billy is overcome with cold and waits for the eventuality that is death to pass over him and remove his soul from his body. Instead Billy becomes what the narrator describes as “unstuck” in time. This is the first time that Billy ever experiences ‘time travel’. There are at least two ways to interpret this scene. In the first one, the reader assumes that Billy is in shock, is delirious, and has a...