Her telephone rang; there was a drunk on the other end whom Billy could smell his breath of mustard gas and roses. Billy hung up because it was a wrong number.
Billy pilgrim padded downstairs on his blue and ivory feet. He went into the kitchen, where the moonlight called his attention to a half bottle of champagne on the kitchen table, all that was left from the reception in the tent. Somebody had stoppered it again. “Drink me’, it seemed to say. (60)
This chapter sought to explore the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the protagonists of Slaughterhouse-Five. Billy pilgrim is mostly known as the only main character of this novel. Yet as a matter of fact the novel has two protagonists. Since the ten chapters can be divided into two parts each part has its own character. The first part includes the opening and the closing chapters in which the narrator, whose name is not mentioned during the novel, is the main character. He is a veteran of the Second World War who is traumatized during the bombardment of the German city, Dresden; the consequences of the event on him are shown as the symptoms of his mental disorder, PTSD. Although more than twenty years have passed since the incident, the narrator still relives the event in such a way that it has totally influenced his present life. He has some sleeping disorders and as a result of this he has obsessed himself to alcohols. Yet the trauma interrupts frequently and this is observed through his recurrent flashbacks to the places and events in his past.
The second part including chapter two to nine is indeed the narrator’s written account of his experiences at war. The protagonist of this part is Billy Pilgrim who has a lot in common with the narrator since he has witnessed the same atrocities at World War II. He is also unable to cope with his memories because the influence of the disaster was so deep on him that he has become completely unstuck in time. Therefore his life is full of frequent and random flashbacks to the battlefield which is difficult for the reader to follow. His state of numbness, his use of alcohols and his sleep disturbances should also be added to the list of symptoms he shows in order to be considered as a patient suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
A Psychoanalytical Reading of Slaughterhouse-Five:
Recovery of Billy Pilgrim and the Narrator