Slaughterhouse Five

We wish the Tralfamadorians were as fun as they sound. But unfortunately, they're your garden variety kidnap-humans-and-torture-them type of alien.

American Literature20th-Century American Literature
All American Literature
AuthorVonnegut - Kurt Vonnegut
Early 20th-Century LiteratureEarly 20th-Century American Literature
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature
ThemesFate and Free Will
Foolishness and Folly
Freedom and Confinement
Literature and Writing
Men and Masculinity
Morality and Ethics
Suffering
Time
War and Warfare

Transcript

00:24

– just sound out>> to live and mate in their interstellar zoo. You won’t find that in

00:29

any history textbook.

00:31

What is going on with Billy's trips to Tralfamadore? Take a look at when this book is set.

00:37

It’s the 1960s. Everything is trippy and psychedelic, and chances are if you weren’t

00:43

listening to Yellow Submarine, you were thinking you lived in one.

00:46

It’s a tie-dye state of mind, you dig? Billy’s groovy visions are just a result

00:53

of the times. He doesn’t exactly have a firm grasp on reality.

00:58

However, despite Billy’s tenuous grasp on the real world, these spacey trips are very

01:04

real to Billy…

01:05

… and the Tralfamadorians teach him some valuable lessons…

01:09

Like how time is totally predetermined and unchangeable and there is no free will.

01:14

Yikes. That would have us crying ourselves to sleep in our cage… if being in a cage

01:18

didn’t have us crying already.

01:20

Maybe by valuable lesson we mean: bleak and depressing lesson.

01:24

Either way, who cares if it’s all in his head? As long as it’s him and not us.

01:31

Real or not, maybe it's all just one big metaphor.

01:34

The Tralfamadorians are a lot like the Germans during World War two, except without the funny

01:39

little Charlie Chaplin mustache that Hitler ruined for everyone.

01:42

These aliens strip Billy of his choices… and his clothes…

01:45

…Take him captive, and make him subject to their rules and their reality.

01:49

He’s trapped like an animal in a zoo. They make him relive his World War two experience,

01:54

and there's nothing he can do to stop it. It’s the sci-fi version of post-traumatic

01:59

stress disorder.

02:00

If Billy was an actual monkey, instead of a human experiment, PETA would not be happy

02:05

about this. Back to reality, everyone. Buckle your seatbelts.

02:09

What do you think about Billy's trips to Tralfamadore?

02:13

Are they trippy hallucinations?

02:15

Are they part of Billy’s weird, sci-fi fantasy?

02:18

Or are they just a far-out metaphor? Shmoop amongst yourselves