slaughterhouse-five is a satire about world war ii. the main character, billy pilgram, tells his experiences as an american soldier and chaplain’s assistant. arguably the peak of the story is where pilgrim, a prisoner of war, survives, as dresden is firebombed to practically nothing by the allies. keep in mind, slaughterhouse-five is not only famous as vonnegut’s best novel, but it is semi-autobiographical in nature; exposing real experiences that vonnegut had in the war, and justifying the dark humor used to narrate a world war.
“It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like ‘Poo-tee-weet?'”
“He didn’t look like a solider at all. He looked like a filthy flamingo.”
“The boy was as beautiful as Eve.”
“Derby’s son would survive the war. Derby wouldn’t. That good boy of his would be filled with holes by a firing squad in Dresden in sixty-eight days. So it goes.”
“So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a big help.”
“There was a big number over the door of the building. The number was five. Before the Americans could go inside, their only English-speaking guard told them to memorize their simple address, in case they got lost in the big city. Their address was this: ‘Schlachthof Fünf.’ Schlachthof meant slaughterhouse. Fünf was good old five.”