Slaughterhouse V

by Kurt Vonnegut

Summary

Slaughterhouse five is basically a summary of the long and gruesome life of Billy Pilgrim. It begins with his retelling of his war stories with an old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare. He is trying to create a masterpeice of a book that will summarize the fire bombing of Dresden that he survived and hopefully help prevent war. It then skips throughout Pilgrim's life from his childhood all the way to his death. He is a mental time traveler and that is why the book skips around so much. Pilgrim was in the US military and was captured in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. He has a wife Valencia, who he married only for her wealth, for she is an ugly and wicked woman. They have two kids together, Barbara and Robert who have to deal with the mishaps and the trauma the couple suffers. Valencia dies of carbon monoxide poisoning on her way to the hopital that Pilgrim was staying at after he was the only survivor of a plane wreck. Throughout the book it says "so it goes," multiple times which is an indication that something awful has happened, either to Pilgrim or about the gruesome war that he went through. Somewhere in Billy's life he is believed to have been abducted by a strange alien species called the Tralfamadorians. He is taken to their planet to live in a zoo on display with a fellow earthling, Montana Wildhack, who is a famous actress and Billy reproduces with while on Tralfamadore. The story skips to this approximated year he spends on the planet a few times throughout the book. The main story is the fire bombing in Dresden because the book starts off at a time long after the war is over and Billy is trying to make some money by writing a book about the bombing and then at the end he is recovering from it and reflecting on it. This bombing was believed to be the cause of all of Billy's trauma. Also he spent a very long time in a POW train with his crew crossing the European countryside without proper clothing, food, water, cleansing or shelter. The book was meant to prevent war because it is all about the hardships he went through because of war. They weren't just hardships either. Between being abducted by aliens, being in a plane crash, being in the fire bombing, and the death of his wife, Billy had one of the roughest times imaginable.


Review/Opinion

I thought the book was interesting and had a pretty entertaining storyline. It was a very depressing and scary book, for Pilgrim was insane for the majority of his life and was a prisoner of war for most of it also. I would recommend reading it to anyone who enjoys war stories, stories of insanity, or even time traveling. I enjoyed the book because of the stories about the Dresden fire bombing and Pilgrim's stories of being a prisoner of war. I didn't enjoy all of the stories about mental facilities and insanity although they gave good insight on the effects war has on the mind. My opinion is that the book had a good story but it was too gloomy and scary for my preference. I would only recommend it to someone who doesn't mind reading so much content about the gloom and horrors of war.

Favorite Passage

My favorite passage starts with Billy Pilgrim being the only survivor of a plane crash into Sugarbush Mountain. He is sent to the hospital where he is being taken care of and nobody knows what to make of his distorted body. His wife Valencia has just heard the news and is speeding her way to the hospital.


"The exhaust system rested on the pavement. The driver of the Mercedes got out and went to Valencia, to find out if she was all right. She blabbed hysterically about Billy and the airplane crash, and then she put her car in gear and crossed the median divider, leaving her exhaust system behind. When she arrived at the hospital, people rushed to the windows to see what all the noise was. The Cadillac, with both mufflers gone, sounded like a heavy bomber coming in on a wing and a prayer. Valencia turned off the engine, but then she slumped against the steering wheel, and the horn brayed steadily. A doctor and a nurse ran out to find out what the trouble was. Poor Valencia was unconscious, overcome with carbon monoxide. She was a heavenly azure. One hour later she was dead. So it goes.


This is my favorite passage because it sums up the book perfectly. A lot of things happen like it but this one was the final straw for Pilgrim. He was assumed to be a vegetable for the rest of his life and his poor wife Valencia died while coming to save him.

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt

This describes so many things throughout the story and is used as an analogy. The tombstone represents the death of Billy Pilgrim's consious mind after the war. The war trauma scarred him for life and it can never be brought back, as in life.

Slaughterhouse-Five