by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Section.Paragraph)
Billy was displayed [on Tralfamadore] in the zoo in a simulated Earthling habitat. Most of the furnishings had been stolen from the Sears Roebuck warehouse in Iowa City, Iowa. (5.38.1)
Billy is happier in captivity on Tralfamadore than he is back on Earth, even though he is naked and exposed to the gazes of aliens who want him to perform for their amusement. What's to like about this situation? How does Billy describe his confinement? How does his confinement sound to you – like good times?
"Did you hear what I said?" Barbara inquired. It was 1968 again.
"Of course." [Billy] had been dozing.
"If you're going to act like a child, maybe we'll just have to treat you like a child." (5.59.1-3)
Barbara is really getting off on this power trip over her old man, we'd say. In what sense does aging seem like another kind of confinement? Billy has various encounters with aging people: his dying mother (2.26) and an old man in a doctor's waiting room (9.19). How does Vonnegut represent aging?
You lads are leaving this afternoon for Dresden – a beautiful city, I'm told. You won't be cooped up like us. You'll be out where the life is, and the food is certain to be more plentiful than here. If I may inject a personal note: It has been five years now since I have seen a tree or flower or woman or child – or a dog or a cat or a place of entertainment, or a human being doing useful work of any kind. (6.14.5)
Note how the British colonel represents his own feelings of confinement. He is perfectly comfortable and warm in the compound, but he misses activity and social community. In fact, Billy's postwar life seems a little like this, except that his captivity isn't quite as obvious. Billy, too, is physically comfortable and well provided for, but he doesn't get to make choices about where to go or what to do with his life. All those choices are made by his family and social circumstances.