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What Is The Meaning Of Free Will In Life

1974 words - 8 pages

Free will is the idea in which individuals can have the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate, and this idea of free will served as a prevalent theme in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut illustrates the absurdity of no free will in Pilgrim’s world through the book’s nonlinear structure and unorganized plot. The novel is constructed as a series of inconsistent flashbacks and future incidents through the eyes of the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim is able to time-travel to the past and future, but without any control over his peculiar ability. He can constantly travels through any moment in time without controlling it. Instead of free will existing, ...view middle of the document...

Vonnegut states, “Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955, and come out another one in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between” (23). Pilgrim is able to visit and revisit different periods of time constantly without any influence or choice of his doing in the matter. Because Pilgrim is able to see into the past and future, he cultivates unsympathetic feelings and is indifferent, which shows that Pilgrim loses a sense of value of himself. He lacks passion in his life as he does not truly appreciate everything and everyone he has. Having no free will would persuade individuals to hold no motivation or determination in their lives because it would not matter in a fate-controlled world.
Moreover, predestination and fate would take the place of free will if it did not exist in the world. Believing that one’s life is already decided for and planned entirely would defeat the purpose of life as people would not be able to experience life due to the choices they make and want. Knowing that an individual is destined to follow a particular path in life without any chance to avoid or change it will change the person’s outlook on life. In the novel, Pilgrim married Valencia Merble even though he didn’t love her and thought she was “as big as a house because she couldn’t stop eating” (107). Due to his uncanny ability of time-travel, Pilgrim “had already seen a lot of their marriage, thanks to time-travel, [and] knew that it was going to be at least bearable all the way” (120). Pilgrim marries Valencia Merble and accepts her as his wife as she was destined to be with him. He fools himself into thinking he is satisfied in the marriage since he can time travel and see future events. Because there is no free will in Pilgrim’s world, Pilgrim must accept everything in his life and learn to be content with how it plays out. For instance, Pilgrim married into a rich family and gained a successful career in optometry due to his father-in-law, even though Pilgrim never mentioned any great interest in this study. Pilgrim was content and comfortable with this part of his life since he has a wife who adores him and a stable salary. Pilgrim does not love Valencia or optometry, yet he still accepts them into his life. Pilgrim acknowledges the fact that he has no control or any sort of free will in his life, even though he can see into the past and future.
On the other hand, the idea of free will gives people a reason to be happy and to live their lives meaningfully. Having free will means that individuals can choose their own paths in their lives and determine their future without the notion of predestination and fate bringing them down. The belief in free will also can be beneficial and healthy as individuals develop the strong illusion that they are free and are not...

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