by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Section.Paragraph)
Billy covered his head with his blanket again. He always covered his head when his mother came to see him in the mental ward – always got much sicker until she went away. . . .
She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarrassed and ungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn't really like life at all. (5.23.3-4)
Another form of confinement we find in the book involves Billy's complicated relationship with family. He seems to view family as another duty he has to fulfill: he makes money to improve the Pilgrim family name and he marries Valencia because he seems to feel he has no choice. But we get very little insight into how he feels about his family. When he's in the hospital trying to escape from life, his family just seems like yet another prison he has to deal with.
So the Americans put their weapons down, and they came out of the woods with their hands on top of their heads, because they wanted to go on living if they possibly could. (5.27.14)
This line appears in an account of Edgar Derby's capture by the Germans. Even though much of the book seems to be about the possibility of escaping various literal and metaphoric prisons, life is still usually more appealing than death.
Billy didn't want to marry ugly Valencia. She was one of the symptoms of his disease. He knew he was going crazy when he heard himself proposing marriage to her, when he begged her to take the diamond ring and be his companion for life. (5.28.4)
Marriage is just another layer of confinement in Billy's life. And yet, he never considers not marrying Valencia despite his family's wishes. How much responsibility should Billy bear for his own loss of freedom? What would Billy do with real freedom if he had it?