5/6 & 9 Slaughterhouse V, Ch 2-4

Friday was a reading day for chapters 2, 3, and 4. In your lab books, I asked you to track one or two of the NEW motifs you see in this chapter and do some theorizing about what you think those motifs mean.

Monday we’ll have a quiz and a large group discussion about these chapters.

Tuesday will be a reading day for Chapter 5. Note that Chapter 5 is a bit on the long side (I understate), so if you need more advance notice, consider this as advance notice!

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12 thoughts on “5/6 & 9 Slaughterhouse V, Ch 2-4

  1. I tracked the motif-blue and ivory- I totally agree with the class about how it represents death and how Billy has cold feet about the war as well as being “dead” inside because of it. I think this really speaks to the effects of war from the standpoint of PTSD. The soldier that is advertised as a hero doen’t include all of the metal and emotional instability that comes with post-war life- which connects to the motif of soldiers not looking like soldiers. Another thing that I noticed was that on page 72 he is talking about his daughters wedding night and how he couldn’t sleep and he felt spooky and he says his feet were “ivory and blue” instead of “blue and ivory” like every other time. I don’t know if there is any significance to this swap especially because it is right in the middle of all the other blue and ivory references.

  2. For chapters 2-4, I decided to track the motif of seeing/eyes, which occurs a lot throughout this whole book.

    In class we discussed that Billy’s job as an optometrist is to correct vision to help others see, and more importantly to help us as readers see the realities of war and its effects. In my opinion, Billy does a great job of this. His “blindness” to his surroundings (his flashbacks, his imagination of the aliens) really “adjust” our vision on the war and its damaging effects. One scene in particular that helped me to see this appears on page 56, when Billy is examining one of his patient’s eyes. He falls asleep out of nowhere and is unaware of his age, time, and where he is. He is just gone and blinded of everyone and everything.

  3. In class we talked briefly about why Billy did not say anything in protest of the bombing of Vietnam. We read the lines “Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present and the future.” What we did not do in class was connect this passage with the Tralfamadorians. The Tralfamadorians believe that things just happen. They don’t ask why. Billy and the aliens are the same this way, as they can both see into the past, present and future. Humans can only reflect on the past and see the present. On the surface, the book is telling us that there is no point because we can’t change the outcome. Under the surface we realize that’s a lie. We can change the future, even if only a little. The book is telling us one message, but implying another.

  4. I would have gone on a rant in class but I didn’t want to take up all our time, so I will do it here instead. The section where Billy watches the American bombers in reverse created some connections with my grandfather’s experiences in the second world war that goes along with some of the themes we’ve seen so far, so I want to tell a story. My grandfather was a pilot of a Boeing B-17 “flying fortress”. He was a lieutenant colonel and rotated as flying leader of his squadron which consisted of twenty four bombers. He estimated that his squadron’s bombs killed three hundred thousand people total in his twenty three combat missions (though there is no way for him to have known that). One of those missions was the bombing of Dresden told in this book. The more interesting story, though, is the destruction of Mainz. Like the majority of European cities in World War Two, Mainz had a rich history. The city is famous as the home of the invention of the movable type-print and is the home of its inventor, Johannes Gutenberg, and was created as a Roman outpost on the western frontier. In the bombing of Mainz, more than eighty percent of the city was blown to hell along with many of its inhabitants. The city took many years to rebuild after the war. After the war, the French occupied Mainz (which was part of the Rhineland). Following the withdrawal of French forces from Mainz, the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) occupied the military bases in Mainz. Purely coincidentally, my grandfather was stationed in the very city he had utterly destroyed just years before. My grandfather made many friends there, and though he never learned fluent German despite living in Germany for nineteen years after the war, they told him of family members and friends lost during the bombing. He never told them that he was probably responsible for their deaths. This irony is very similar to that seen in slaughterhouse, which goes to show slaughterhouse isn’t that far off with its assessment of war and how terrible it really is.

    • Sounds like you’re convinced from your grandfather’s experience that war is pretty terrible, a message that our author would certainly agree with. I’m a little curious about how this connects specifically to the text we read, though?

  5. Billy is an optometrist. He believes that he’s correcting people’s views about time, and the writer (I think maybe a weird Vonnegut-reflection) believes that he’s correcting views about war. I’m still waiting for these two things to tie together somehow.

    The soldiers- Billy is a flamingo, Weary is obsessed with violence, the German guys who capture them with the dog that’s not a fighting dog. The German boy was ‘beautiful’, not like soldiery things. By that he was showing that the enemy was also a baby.

  6. I completely agree with everything we talked about in class about the blue and ivory feet. We also talked about Billy’s boots which seem to represent innocence. He is always wearing those boots and he wore those when he was younger and entered the war. I think he’s wearing those shoes “innocence” to literally cover up how he’s dead inside. The shoes can show youth. The blue and ivory feet can show death. So, he is practically covering up his death with his youth.

  7. I noticed something that no one talked about which seemed significant (even though it wasn’t exactly a motif). There was a baptism in chapter 3 when Billy was jumping everywhere in time and landed in a place where his father was teaching him how to swim by using the “sink or swim” method. This is the first baptism in the book and it tells me that Billy was brought to light about the harshness of the world at a pretty young age, which helps us use him as a way to see how bad war is, because he is able to see it and say “So it goes…” On the subject of water, there was the part of the book where the narrator (I think Billy was narrating this part) describes the soldiers marching as a river, and he uses all these flowing, river-like words to describe them. This goes back to what we talked about in class, how the soldiers aren’t like normal soldiers. They aren’t manly, and (retaining to this river description) they march unlike you would think soldiers to march like, proud and strong.

  8. I formed an idea about the backwards movie that I believe might be its purpose. In the backwards movie Billy is able to see the beauty because the destruction is removed due to time. Billy doesn’t need this movie to show the beauty of things since he is unstuck in time, but we as readers do need to see this. This movie shows both the power of time through its beauty and the backwards thinking of humans. People only have a three ways to see the past books, movies, and stories of those who have been through it. Since we are limited to these, we only experience what authors wish us to see. The bombings have taken away beauty from the cities, and since Slaughter House 5 is a antiwar book we see the beauty when the fire doesn’t exist. It also shows the backward thinking of humans as the war destroys when in the reversed film it recovers. This shows that humans do not try to create, but rather destroy and burn. That weapons are beauty in movies, and their explosions are what the people come to see. That the cities and people don’t exist and that they can watch war films without any real harm. This brings more explosions to the people in movies and the people watch them and their hatred of war lessens. This backward movie shows how we ought to want to see things compared to how we normally do.

  9. In class we talked about how Billy can’t change anything, and how he blinks into different times. I thought Billy was like the Tralfamadorians, how they can choose a time and go to it.

  10. I tracked the eyes and sight motif in chapters 2-4. I think it was interesting the we would go back in time and then go forward. He sees stuff in the now, but also in the past. I think that Vonnegut is saying that his seeing is mixed up, When he is drunk and cant SEE the steering wheel I think that means that he still cant see fully, in the now or even in the past. His eyes are’t able to see clearly because they are so disconnected. I think that Vonnegut is again trying to show us that war not only physical takes its toll, but also messes up our sight and what we are able to distinguish as real or fake.

  11. I followed the war motif throughout these chapters, and I feel that the message that Vonnegut is trying to show is that war is inevitable, but we need to pay more attention to it. One example is when his son is going off to the Vietnam war. He seems to understands the possible consequences, but is fine with it. He also relates this message in his life with the orange and black colors, kind of like a no pass zone.

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