During the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim claims that he is kidnapped by an alien species called the Tralfamadorians. He insists that they take him to their home planet, Tralfamadore, talk to him about their theories on time, and then put him in a zoo with an attractive active, Montana Wildhack. Billy thinks that all of these events are true, and he even lives by the Tralfamadorian theories about time, but in reality, none of these events ever occur.
The first time Billy experiences time travel, which is something the Tralfamadorians believe in, is shortly after he returns from the war. We can assume that Billy suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after his horrible experiences during war. The night Billy first time travels is the night of his daughter’s weeding. “He said he had been kidnapped by the Tralfamadorians on the night of his daughter’s wedding. He hadn’t been missed, he said, because the Tralfamadorians had taken him through a time warp, so that he could be on Tralfamadore for years, and still be away from Earth for only a microsecond” (p. 26). In reality, Billy did miss he daughter’s wedding; he wasn’t gone for only a microsecond. This shows that his Tralfamadorian beliefs are fictitious and only in his head.
Another time that disproves the Tralfamadorians is when Billy is in New York City. He is walking around the city and sees a bookstore with one of Kilgore Trout’s novels in the window. He goes inside and sees a magazine with the cover: “What really became of Montana Wildhack?”. “He [Billy] knew where Montana Wildhack really was, of course. She was back on Tralfamadore, taking care of the baby, but the magazine, which was called Midnight Pussycats, promises that she was wearing a cement overcoat under thirty fathoms of saltwater in San Pedro Bay” (p. 204). This magazine clearly states that Montana is dead, yet Billy still believes that she is alive on Tralfamadore. He had just seen a movie of her playing in the store, so he is obviously thinking back to that. Billy thinks that since he just saw he alive at one time, she is still currently alive. The Tralfamadorian belief does not hold true.
The biggest thing that proves that the Tralfamadorians aren’t real is when Billy finds one of Kilgore Trout’s books in the store that he had never read before. “He got a few paragraphs into it, and then he realized that he had read it before—years ago, in the veterans’ hospital. It was about an Earthling man and woman who were kidnapped by extra-terrestrials. They were put on display in a zoo on a planet called Zircon-212” (p. 201). This Kilgore Trout book is the whole basis for Billy’s belief in the Tralfamadorians. As I stated earlier, the first time Billy experienced time travel was shortly after the war. Billy read this book while he was in the veterans’ hospital right after the war. His post traumatic stress disorder must have made him think that the book was real, and that he was part of the book. He had no sense of reality after the war, and this book must have made him feel like he did have a sense of reality, though he really didn’t.
The effect of war caused Billy to believe he was kidnapped by aliens. War caused him to lose a sense of what was real and what wasn’t real. Through this facet of the book, I think Vonnegut is trying to show that war is not only horrible physically through death, but that it also can destroy you emotionally and mentally. Billy was scarred from the war and never recovered. His mind was altered and he began to believe in imaginary things as a way to cope. War is a horrible thing that can effect people long after it is over.