Slaughterhouse Five

We move to the first time Billy gets unstuck in time. Billy receives minimal training as a chaplain's assistant before

Slaughterhouse Five



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boots are a trophy from a battle long ago. Once, while waxing the boots, he told a soldier that if you stared into their shine you could see Adam and Eve. Though Billy has never heard the corporal's claim, looking into the boots now he sees Adam and Eve and loves them for their innocence, vulnerability, and beauty. A blond fifteen-year-old boy helps Billy to his feet; he looks as beautiful and innocent as Eve. In the distance, shots sound out as the two scouts are killed. Waiting in ambush, they were found and shot in the backs of their heads.

The Germans take Weary's things, including the pornographic picture, which the two old men grin about, and Weary's boots. The fifteen-year old gets Weary's boots, and Weary gets the boy's clogs. Weary and Billy are made to march a long distance to a cottage where American POWs are being detained. The soldiers there say nothing. Billy falls asleep, his head on the shoulder of a Jewish chaplain.

Billy leaps in time to 1967, although it takes him a while to figure out the date. He is giving an eye exam in his office in Ilium. His car, visible outside his window, has conservative stickers on the bumper; the stickers were gifts from his father-in-law.

He leaps back to the war. A German is kicking his feet, telling him to wake up. The Americans are assembled outside for photographs. The photographer takes pictures of Billy's and Weary's feet as evidence of how poorly equipped the American troops are. They stage photos of Billy being captured. Billy then returns to 1967, driving to the Lion's club. He drives through a black ghetto, an area recovering from recent riots and fires. He largely ignores what he sees there. At the Lion's club, a marine major talks about the need to continue the fight in Vietnam. He advocates bombing North Vietnam into the Stone Age, if necessary, and Billy does not think of the horror of bombing, which he has witnessed himself. He is simply having lunch. The narrator mentions that he has a prayer on the wall of his office: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference."

The narrator tells us that Billy cannot change past, present, or future. After lunch, Billy goes home. He is a wealthy man now, with a son in the Green Berets and a daughter about to get married; he also is seized occasionally by sudden and inexplicable bouts of weeping. During one of these spells, he closes his eyes and finds himself back in World War II. He is marching with an ever-growing line of Americans making their way through Luxembourg. They cross into Germany, being filmed by the Germans who want a record of their great victory. Weary's feet are sore and bloody from marching on the German boy's clogs. The Americans are sorted by rank, and a colonel tries to talk with Billy. The colonel is dying; he tries to be chummy with Billy. He has always wanted to be called "Wild Bob" by his men. He dreams of having a reunion of his men in his hometown of Cody, Wyoming. He invites Billy and the other men to come. Vonnegut mentions that he and Bernard O'Hare were there when the colonel gave his invitation. All of the POWs are put into train cars. The train does not leave for two days; during that time Wild Bob dies. The boxcars are so crowded that to sleep the men have to take turns lying down. When the train finally begins its trek deeper into Germany, Billy jumps through time again. It is 1967, and he is about to be kidnapped for the first time by the Trafalmadorians.

Chapter Four. Summary:

In 1967, on his daughter's wedding night, Billy cannot sleep. Because he is unstuck in time, he knows that he will soon be kidnapped by a Trafalmadorian flying saucer. He kills time unproductively in the meantime. He watches a war movie, and because he is unstuck in time the movie goes forward and then backward. He goes out to meet the ship, and he is taken as planned. As the ship shoots out into space, Billy is jarred back to 1944. In the boxcar, none of the men want Billy to sleep next to them because he yells and thrashes in his sleep. He is forced to sleep while standing. In another car, Weary dies of gangrene in his feet. As he slowly dies over the course of days, he tells people again and again about the Three Musketeers. He also asks that someone get revenge for him on the man who caused his death. He blames Billy Pilgrim, of course.

The train finally arrives at a camp, and Billy and the other men are pushed and prodded along. The camp is full of dying Russian POWs. At points, Vonnegut likens the Russians' faces to radium dials. The Americans are all given coats; Billy's is too small. They go into a delousing station, where all of the men strip naked. Billy has one of the worst bodies there; he is skinny and weak, and a German soldier comments on that fact. We are introduced briefly to Edgar Derby and Paul Lazarro. Derby is the oldest POW there, a man who pulled strings to get into the army. He is a high school teacher from Indianapolis, and he is physically sturdy despite his forty-four years of age. He will be shot after the Dresden bombing for trying to steal a teapot.

Paul Lazarro is a car thief from Illinois. His body is even weaker and less healthy than Billy's. He was in Roland Weary's boxcar, and he vowed solemnly to Weary that he would find and kill Billy Pilgrim. When the scalding water turns on, Billy leaps back to his infancy. His mother has just finished giving him a bath. He then leaps forward to a Sunday game of golf, played with three other optometrists. Then, he leaps in time to the space ship, on his first trip to Trafalmadore. He talks with one of his captors about time, and he says that the Trafalmadorians sound like they do not believe in free will. The alien replies that in all of the inhabited planets of the galaxy, Earth is the only one whose people believe in the concept of free will.

Chapter Five. Summary:

En route to Trafalmadore, Billy asks for something to read. The only human novel is Valley of the Dolls, and when Billy asks for a Trafalmadorian novel, he learns that the aliens' novels are slim, sleek volumes. Because they have a different concept of time, Trafalmadorians have novels arranged by juxtaposition of marvelous moments. The books have no cause or effect or chronology; their beauty is in the arrangement of events meant to be read simultaneously. Billy jumps in time to a visit to the Grand Canyon taken when he was twelve years old. He is terrified of the canyon. His mother touches him and he wets his pants. He jumps forward in time just ten days, to later in the same vacation. He is visiting Carlsbad Caverns. The ranger turns the lights off, so that the tourists can experience total darkness. But Billy sees a light nearby: the radium dial of his father's watch.

Billy jumps back to the war. The Germans think Billy is one of the funniest creatures they've seen in all of the war. His coat is preposterously small, and on his already awkward body it looks ridiculous. The Americans give their names and serial numbers so that they can be reported to the Red Cross, and then they are marched to sheds occupied by middle-aged British POWs. The British welcome them with singing. These British POWs are officers, some of the first Brits taken prisoner in the war. They have been prisoners for four years. Due to a clerical error early in the war, the Red Cross shipped them an incredible surplus of food, which they have hoarded cleverly. Consequently, they are some of the best-fed people in Europe. Their German captors adore them.

To prepare for their American guests, the Brits have cleaned and set out party favors. Candles and soap, supplied by the Germans, are plentiful: the British do not know that these items are made from the bodies of Holocaust victims. They have prepared a huge dinner and a dramatic adaptation of Cinderella. Billy is so unhinged that his laughter at the performance becomes hysterical shrieking, and he is taken to the hospital and doped up on morphine. Edgar Derby watches over him, reading The Red Badge of Courage. He leaps in time to the mental ward where he recovered in 1948.

In the mental ward, Billy's bed is next to the bed of Elliot Rosewater. Like Billy, he has little love for life, in part because of things he saw and did in the war. He is the man who introduces Billy to the science fiction of Kilgore Trout. Billy is enduring one of his mother's dreaded visits. She is a simple, religious woman. She makes Billy feel worse just by being there. Billy leaps back in time to the POW camp. A British colonel talks to Derby; after the newly arrived Americans shaved, the British were shocked by how young they all were. Derby tells of how he was captured: the Americans were pushed back into a forest, and the Germans rained shells on them until they surrendered.

Billy leaps back to the hospital. He is being visited by his ugly, overweight fiancйe Valencia. He knew he was going crazy when he proposed to her. He does not want to marry her. She is visiting now, eating a Three Musketeers bar and wearing a diamond engagement ring that Billy found while in Germany. Elliot tells her about The Gospel from Outer Space, a Kilgore Trout book.

Valencia tries to talk to Billy about plans for their wedding and marriage, but he is not too involved. He leaps forward in time to the zoo on Trafalmadore, where he was on display when he was forty-four years old. The habitat is furnished with Sears and Roebuck furniture. He is naked. He answers questions posed by the Trafalmadorian tourists. He learns that there are five sexes among the Trafalmadorians, but the sex difference is only visible in the fourth dimension. On earth the

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