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Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Essay


The article under consideration refers to the critique of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five and discusses the psychiatric problems experienced by the author of the novel. In particular, the researcher focuses on the psychological aspects of the story to highlight the disorders that Vonnegut faced during the World War II. At the very beginning, Vees-Gulani briefly overviews the evidence from the book pointing to the Vonnegut’s psychological trauma in order to underline how the writer makes use of stylistic and literary devices to surpass his distress and recover from the hardships of war. To support the evidence, the scholar pays attention to other scientific studies exploring the novel from a psychological point of view. The supporting arguments provide a persuasive account on the protagonist’s psychological state, as well as associate Billy Pilgrim’s disorders with schizophrenia.

Further in the article, Vees-Gulani relies on subsequent studies of disorders experiences by the witnesses and participants of the Vietnamese war to analyze psychological breakdowns and breakdowns of the patients. In such a way, the author attempts to define the main features and characteristic of posttraumatic stress disorder. The review of scientific studies provides a solid ground for emphasizing the presence of a number of symptoms possessed by the main hero of Vonnegut’s novel. It also contributes to estimating various facets of Billy’s mental and emotional being. As soon as the author of the article has determined the main aspects of the disorder, she makes reference to the examples from the book that support the previously conducted research in the field. Aside from the content evaluation, the author also resorts to the analysis of stylistic devices testifying to Vonnegut’s psychological state, including repetitions, emphatic constructions, and incomplete sentences.

To enlarge on the symptoms of psychological trauma, Vees-Gulani focuses on the analysis of scenes, feelings, and behaviors of the main character to provide stronger evidence of his inadequate attitude to his hard experiences. In particular, the researcher introduces examples from the novel about the constant repetition of color description to explain the impulsive atmosphere. She also introduces extracts from the story describing the hero’s fantasies and flashbacks related to the horrors of the war. Therefore, the author of the article manages to present a multifaceted approach to evaluating the main features of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Apart from the analysis of the main character’s behavior, the scholar also pays attention to secondary characters to underline how their interaction correlates with the main hero’s acceptance of the surrounding world and impossibility to get rid of the past. Because of failure to understand the psychological problems, the characters are depicted as the newcomers from the alternative reality who are not able to realize what Billy Pilgrim feels. Such a perspective allows to distinguish between people possessing psychological disorders and those who were not affected by the traumatic events.

In conclusion, Vees-Gulani successfully manages to uncover the main themes in Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as define the psychological aspects relating to the author’s traumatic experience. In particular, the author also argues that the novel itself is a kind of the Vonnegut’s confessions that helped him recover from the horrors of the war. Therefore, the novel reflects the author’s conscious flow of feelings and emotions related to the traumatic events. This technique is recognized as an efficient way for self-treatment and recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder.

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IvyPanda. (2020, July 21). Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-in-slaughterhouse-five-by-kurt-vonnegut/

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"Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut." IvyPanda, 21 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-in-slaughterhouse-five-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

1. IvyPanda. "Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-in-slaughterhouse-five-by-kurt-vonnegut/.


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IvyPanda. "Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-in-slaughterhouse-five-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut." July 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-in-slaughterhouse-five-by-kurt-vonnegut/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Psychology in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut'. 21 July.

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