Literapedia Book Notes for

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Characters

  • Narrator (ch 1)—War veteran writing a book about Dresden
  • Bernard O'Hare (ch 1)—Narrator's war buddy; locked with him in a slaughterhouse as POWs
  • Gerhard Muller (ch 1)—Cab driver; took Bernard & the Narrator to the slaughterhouse
  • Harrison Starr (ch 1)—Movie maker who says there will always be wars
  • Edgar Derby (ch 1)—American soldier executed for stealing
  • Paul Lazzaro (ch 1)—American soldier; insane and obsessed with revenge
  • Nanny (ch 1)—Narrator's daughter
  • Allison Mitchell (ch 1)—Nanny's best friend
  • Mary O'Hare (ch 1)—Bernard's wife; angry about the war
  • Billy Pilgrim (ch 2)—WWII Veteran, protagonist of the novel, has become unstuck in time
  • Barbara Pilgrim (ch 2)—Billy's daughter
  • Robert Pilgrim (ch 2)—Billy's son
  • Tralfamadorians (ch 2)—Aliens that abduct Billy; can see in four dimensions and all of time
  • Roland Weary (ch 2)—18 year-old fellow soldier of Billy's; an odd and angry character; has an obsession with torture
  • Valencia (ch 2, named in ch 4)—Billy's wife
  • Hobo (ch 3)—On the boxcar with Billy; tells him that he's been in worse conditions.
  • Eliot Rosewater (ch 5)—Watches over Billy in the veterans' hospital; introduces him to sci-fi
  • Kilgore Trout (ch 5)—Unsuccessful Sci-fi writer who lives near Billy; Eliot and Billy read his books
  • Montana Wildhack (ch 5)—Human mate brought for Billy on Tralfamadore
  • Howard Campbell (ch 5)—American Nazi
  • Werner Gluck (ch 7)—Young guard from Dresden
  • Bertram Copeland Rumfoord (ch 9)—History professor at Harvard in Vermont hospital with Billy; writing history of US Air Corps in WWII
  • Lily Rumfoord (ch 9)—Bertram's fifth wife

Chapter Summaries

  1. The Narrator says that he is writing a book about Dresden. He takes his daughter and her friend to visit Bernard and his wife, Mary. Mary is angry with the Narrator because she believes he will glorify soldiers in the book when they are really just "babies." The Narrator says he will not, and agrees to call the book "The Children's Crusade."
  2. Billy is abducted by the Tralfamadorians, who tell him that dead people are not actually dead because all of time is happening at once. He talks about his time during WWII with Roland Weary, who yells at Billy when he isn't being attentive and talks about various torture methods. During the war, Billy becomes "unstuck in time" and travels in time several times before coming back to the war, where Weary beats him up.
  3. Five Germans discover Billy and Weary and steal their stuff, including their shoes. They take them to a stone cottage, a place for POWs. Billy travels in time again to 1967 twice. He cries on his bed and finds himself in WWII again. The Germans make the American prisoners march from Luxembourg to Germany, and are then packed into trains heading east. He talks with a hobo, who says he's been in worse conditions.
  4. Billy is in 1967 again. The Tralfamadores come to abduct him. As they take off, the high speed causes him to be sent back to WWII, where he finds himself again in the boxcar. Nobody there allows Billy to sleep near them because he yells and kicks. The hobo and Roland Weary die. They arrive at a prison camp, where he encounters Edgar Derby and Paul Lazzaro. Billy travels in time, then finds himself on the spaceship again.
  5. The Tralfamadorians take Billy to their planet and put him in a zoo. Back during the war, Billy is placed in the prison hospital after laughing too much, where Edgar Derby looks over him. He travels in time to 1948, where he is in a veterans’ hospital being watched over by Eliot Rosewater. Billy travels again to the zoo, where Tralfamadorian visitors ask him questions. Billy travels to the war, where he encounters the novel’s author in the latrines. Paul Lazzaro is admitted to the hospital after getting beaten up for stealing. Back on Tralfamadore, another human is brought for him (Montana Wildhack), who sleeps with him. He travels again to 1968 where his daughter believes he is going crazy for talking about the Tralfamadorians.
  6. Paul Lazzaro is angry and wants revenge, and threatens Billy. Billy says he will die in 1976 during a speech in Chicago, after being shot. After his death, he goes back to 1945. The Americans go to Dresden and are placed in Slaughterhouse Five.
  7. Twenty-five years in the future, Billy is in a plane crash where he is the only survivor. He travels in time back to Dresden, where he meets Werner Gluck and has to clean.
  8. Campbell comes to recruit Americans for the German army. In the 60s, Billy meets Kilgore Trout, who is so happy he has a fan. Billy invites him to his wedding anniversary. On Tralfamadore, Montana is pregnant. Dresden is bombed while Billy hides in the shelter with four guards and the Americans, and everyone else in the city is killed.
  9. Valencia dies coming to see Billy after the plane crash. Rumfoord and his wife are in the hospital talking about Dresden. He goes back to two days after the war, where he and five other Americans are in a wagon going back to the slaughterhouse looking for souvenirs. Back in the hospital, Billy tells Rumfoord that he was in Dresden. Billy gets a hotel and goes to a bookstore, where he sees books by Kilgore Trout. He travels back to Tralfamadore, where Montana has given birth to their child.
  10. The narrator, O'Hare, and Billy are in Dresden in 1945 two days after the bombing digging up the ruins.

Book Note Creator

Erin Daniels, '08