How much does time dictate our lives in comparison to the characters in the novel?
We know that it’s more likely at this point that time is more in control over us than we are of it.
“Billy traveled in time” (56)
The characters in the novel I found were not so much dictated by time so much as merely affected it by it. Even Billy Pilgrim, who would travel to all these different stages in his life without knowing where and when he’d be going, would simply take stock of where he was, and go on with his day. Even the way Vonnegut writes it is so casual, like it happens all the time. But I suppose for Billy, it does. When we begin to follow him, he’s already become so used to this by now. Or maybe it’s because the time these characters lived in was simpler, at least in the sense that people lived a bit of a slower life, and were not as into efficiency and convenience as we are now.
He, unlike so many of us, is not confined to the restraints that we see time putting on us, because he knows how his life will turn out, and nothing that he does can change that. He does not have that same sense of urgency to get as much done as possible in as little time as possible.
He is able to remain at peace, having that knowledge that things will, in fact, turn out okay, that even if he dies, he can come back, because surely he is alive in the past. He has that assurance of what so many of us fear of the unknown, and death specifically.
“it is time for me to be dead for a little while- and then live again” (142-143)
I believe more so than the actual action of dying, it is the idea of not fulfilling our potential that is what scares us most, the thought of something so permanent, something that we can never come back from. Billy Pilgrim does not have that; he has the ability to, in a sense, come back from the dead.
As well, Billy Pilgrim is not affected by time the same way the rest of us are because he does not age the same as the rest of us. By looking at time in the linear sense, it would seem like he does, but because he jumps from different time period to different time period, back and forth and everything in between, his physical age is not determined the same way his mental age is.