The murder of his mentor and leader had an equivalent effect on his mental health as the bombing of Dresden.
Billy was unable to cope with the loss of Derby with whom he had become good friends.
In order to calm his anxiety Billy has to use “Magic Fingers”(62), a vibrating electrical blanket that helps him fall asleep.
Billy also gets nightmares, because when he falls asleep in the boxcar in Germany that is taking him to a prisoner’s camp, the other prisoners refuse to sleep next to him due to his whimpering and kicking. When a siren went off “that was simply announcing high noon” (57) and “scared the hell out of him”(57), ‘he was expecting World War Three at any time”(57).
Throughout his life, beginning with his near death experienced when his father used “the method of sink-or-swim”(43) and tossed Billy into the deep end of the pool, Billy has experienced many traumatic events that could have triggered the effects of PTSD.
The first sign of his symptoms became evident behind enemy lines when Billy was attacked by a fellow soldier: “Billy was down on all fours on the ice, and Weary kicked him in the ribs, rolled him over on his side. In reaction “Billy was involuntarily making convulsing sounds” (51). However, Billy most evidently suffers because of the bombing of Dresden.
He witnessed the effects of one of the most horrific and unnecessary military assaults in the history of the United States.
Furthermore, during his stay in Dresden, Billy witnessed an equally evastating scene when “poor old Edgar Derby” was killed by a firing squad for stealing a teapot form the rubble of Dresden, and Billy had to dig his grave.
Although Billy claims that he was abducted by the Tralfamadorians, in reality, he was captured by the Germans.
The reason that the Tralfamadorians exist is so that Billy can escape from the harsh reality of being a prisoner of war.