Sarah Lawall About the Modernist Elements of Pirandello’s Play on Identity


This is to be looked at based on the suffering and life underwent by the author of the novel, Vonnegut himself as well as the main character in the play, Billy Pilgrims resulting from the massacre in the Slaughterhouse-Five. According to Sarah Lawall’s description based on Pirandello’s play, it is in line with the identity changes that both Billy and Vonnegut have gone through.

Identity representation in the twentieth century in the context of World War II

The World War according to the novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, has really distorted the previous way of life of both Vonnegut and his main character Billy Pilgrims. They have undergone serious identity changes resulting from the horrible scenes they saw happening to fellow citizens as lives claimed by the Dresden bombing (Vonnegut 89). They are thus trying to reorganize their lives but this is far from realization. They have lost their identities.

What Has Changed

It is evident from the psychological torture that Vonnegut and Billy are undergoing through following their survival from the brutal butchering of their fellows that due to Dresden bombing. The author is seen to have lost his identity as he argues that writing won’t help him find meaning in life as he is no longer frequently communicating to his wife, he is carelessly drinking and smokes as well as getting too old (Vonnegut 97). He finds it hard to write about the Dresden as the words are not unfolding. He is feared that he might have ruined his talent. He believes writing much on fiction will enable him to forget about the Dresden bombing.

Billy Pilgrim’s initial innocent life has tremendously changed; his modern life has become meaningless as he is unstuck after his abduction as revealed by the novel. His mind is preoccupied by previous horrible scenes of live butchering and has become indifference in life. He is since wondering whether he is alive or dead which he could easily tell during and before the war (Vonnegut 111). Despite his current wealth endowment and the massive respect amongst his peers, his life is full of depression. Billy’s life happiness is also brought out as fantasy indicating that in real life, a daunting challenge is attached to life.

Relationship between individual identity and the outside world

Identity shapes the manner in which a person is viewed and honored in society. We find that Billy is highly respected following his large accumulation of wealth by his peers. The people will rank the degree of respect accorded to an individual based on his identity.


To sum up, individual identity is based on the psychological past experience that one has undergone. A horrible past experience has been contributed to a daunting challenge of both Billy and Vonnegut to reorganize themselves back to the previous degree of respected societal figures.


Work Cited
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-five, Or, the Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. New York: Dell, 1988. Print.

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