Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut


  1. Slaughterhouse-Five is loosely based on Vonnegut’s own experience in WWII. It treats one of the most horrific massacres in European history, the World War II firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, with mock-serious humor and clear antiwar sentiment
Key Takeaways
  • The narrator and main character, Billy Pilgrim, a POW witnesses and survives the Allied forces’ firebombing of Dresden. His narrative jumps in time and this is done as a mechanism for dealing with the horrors he had been put through
  • Billy is kidnapped by two-foot-high aliens who resemble upside-down toilet plungers, who he calls Tralfamadorians. They take him in their flying saucer to the planet Tralfamadore, where they mate him with a movie actress named Montana Wildhack. She, like Billy, has been brought from Earth to live under a transparent geodesic dome in a zoo where Tralfamadorians can observe extraterrestrial curiosities 
  • The Tralfamadorians explain to Billy their perception of time, how its entire sweep exists for them simultaneously in the fourth dimension. When someone dies, that person is simply dead at a particular time.
  • Tralfamadorians prefer to look at life’s nicer moments. When he returns to Earth, Billy initially says nothing of his experiences but Billy knows that his message will eventually be accepted.
  • Due to the alien’s ability to see all time, they possess an attitude of acceptance about their fates, figuring that they are powerless to change them. Only on Earth, according to the Tralfamadorians, is there talk of free will, since humans, they claim, mistakenly think of time as a linear progression.
  • The phrase “So it goes” occurs throughout the book and it reflects a comfort with the idea that although a person may be dead in a particular moment, he or she is alive in all the other moments of his or her life. However, it is used after every single death and helps the reader keep count of all the deaths that happen throughout the book
What I got out of it
  1. Extremely different and interesting read due to the way the narration jumps around in time. Enjoyable read and would definitely recommend