The Communities of Slaughterhouse Five.
There are many dynamic communities in the book Slaughterhouse Five. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is a member of several of these communities and plays a drastically different role in each one. In his hometown of Ilium, New York, Billy is seen as a pillar of society. During World War II, he is considered an ill-prepared loner that is a burden to the people around him. While on display in the Zoo on planet Trafalmadore, Billy is considered a "splendid specimen" of a human being, perfect in every way. Ironically, Billy never feels as accepted in the communities he participates in on earth as he does in the alien zoo.
Billy Pilgrim was born in the town of Ilium, New York. Not a popular child, Billy was a gangly, uncomfortable, outcast of a teenager. After returning from war, his status in the community greatly improves but his happiness doesn't. He completes a course in optometry and ends up marrying the daughter of the school's owner, Valencia, who is overweight and has lower self-esteem than he does. After they are married, Billy is put in charge of a successful optometry practice, but receives little help from Valencia's father. They continue to positively establish themselves in the community by starting a family and buying a big house. Billy even becomes the head of the local "Lion's Club", but is still unexplainably in content with his life there.
Billy's role in a war community is considerably different than that of his role in Ilium. Instead of being considered successful and upstanding, Billy is a mere private, and an awkwardly ill-prepared private at that. His physical weakness furthers the perception that he is an outcast in this community even more. Tall, skinny, and relatively clumsy, Billy finds himself a constant burden to the soldiers around him. Without meeting his commander or receiving proper boots or a helmet, Billy finds himself practically defenseless in the throws of the Battle of the Bulge, one of the more horrific battles of the war.