Essay on War Trauma
Wars have been declared many times in history. WWII started 1939 and continued until 1945. Due to Hitler invading Poland, France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. Moving on, the trauma and psychological impacts from war are incredibly horrifying. Furthermore, war remains a tragic cause of various different sides expressing an alternate viewpoint of a situation.
The side effects of war are disturbing. In SH5, Billy time travels around moments of his life and experiences them as if he was genuinely there. In the story, Billy gets drafted in WWII and is taken prisoner in Germany. In one part, from the terrifying war he closes his eyes and suddenly time travels. From above, it’s seen that it’s foreshadowed Billy has PTSD. “Billy Pilgrim had stopped in the forest. He was leaning against a tree with his eyes closed. His head was tilted back and his nostrils were flaring. He was like a poet in the Parthenon. This was when Billy first became unstuck in time.” (Vonnegut Chpt 2), Billy was in the middle of WWII and paused to shut his eyes to take away the monstrous acts of war happening and found himself time traveling for the first time. With PTSD and the bombing of Dresden, one can conclude that traumatized him. Next, Billy views War as completely terrible and unnecessary from his terrorizing experiences. “How nice- to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive” (Vonnegut 181). From this quote the author sarcastically emphasizes the feeling of being numb from trauma and war. Stating although he’s alive, he doesn’t actually feel being alive. Being in the forest and having to take a moment by closing his eyes to relax for a moment despite being in the middle of a war zone is intensely ironic and saddening. Adding on, he possesses no feelings from those parts in war. It juxtaposes the essential message of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, it means “It’s sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.” from the poem, the hardships of war are mentioned “Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.” (Owen line 5) As both characters in the story undergo a traumatic war but have 2 different views on war. Vonnegut’s being war is unneeded and awful, whereas Owen believes war is necessary and put effort into becoming a commander and then sacrificing his life for the War by dying.
Formerly used to an event or feeling commonly, one will become unphased as it has happened over and over again. The book has a saying “so it goes” that is known as being said when someone dies. This saying is said numerous times so calmly due to Billy being so used to people dying around him. “And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because I was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes.” (Vonnegut 2). Billy described her death in a metaphorical way to spread the fact she died and if not understood the “so it goes” conveyed the understanding in the end. In the poem with War Girls, the captain is described peacefully as dead multiple times, exactly like the saying “so it goes” in SH5. “ But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red,Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.”(Whitman line 5). “In addition, the Tralfamadorians are Billy’s basic escape from the world due to the world being crushed and dismantled in WWII. “The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti. And Tralfamadorians don’t see human beings as two-legged creatures, either. They see them as great millepedes—“with babies’ legs at one end and old people’s legs at the other,” (Vonnegut ?) Billy describes the Tralfamadorians perfectly and insanely weird, as it doesn’t make sense to us and only makes sense to him. He knows Tralfamadorians well and understands them. Both of the quotes question Billy’s sanity as he nonchalantly announces deaths but then knows well of these creatures known as Tralfamadorians.
Ultimately and most importantly, war is redundant and dreadful. The aftershock of victims exposed to it, in this case, Billy have shown and foreshadowed signs of mental illnesses. With WWIII almost starting at the beginning of 2020 with Trump and Iran, it’s unbelievably saddening that everyone was undisturbed and uncareful of how close it was to start.