5/12-16 SH5 Chap 6-10 & Affirmations

We’ll finish the book for Monday, when we’ll talk about it. I’d like you to keep track of THEMES and SYMBOLS/LITERARY ELEMENTS in this section with as much detail as possible. You can see the guide to doing this in your study guide, which we’ll look at today.

Then, I’ll introduce the affirmations.

Here’s the truth about this class: English 10H is the beginning of a cohort. What I mean is that the people in your 10H class are people you’ll be working with for the rest of your high school path, people you’ll want to see at reunions, and they’re probably the people you’ll remember the most about when your 40-something and have two small kids. You’ll stay up late memorizing lines (10H) and going to Prairie Lights readings (USLH) and making your Dante projects (AP Lit). You’ll groan about your work load and suffer through AP exams together.

So I believe one of the best ways to end this first year of cohort building is to take some time to affirm each other. So, for May 25th, I will ask you to write a short affirmation for each person in your class period.

This may sound a lot like “nice notes” from grade school (thanks for the tip Cecilia), but I expect better from you than “You are cool and nice. I like to play soccer with you at recess.” and “Good to have class with you! See you next year.” For the love of all that is holy, please avoid this yearbook cliches and solecisms!

As an example, here’s one I’ve started writing for one of your classmates (I’m sure you can guess who):

Your performance of Bottom in the play was so physical it made me see his character in a new way. I also loved being in discussions with you because whenever you have an aha moment, I can see it on your face and then you share it with the class. We all get to vicariously experience it with you and that builds so much energy and joy.

If you would prefer to type these, there is an electronic version available on Google Classroom, but you must have a PHYSICAL copy with you on May 25th, when we will cut the affirmations into strips and deliver them to the recipients. That day, we will also have a p_ _ lu_ _ to celebrate the end of the year together.




8 thoughts on “5/12-16 SH5 Chap 6-10 & Affirmations

  1. I want to talk about two specific times we see Jesus. The first is on page 197, with the little epigraph “The cattle are lowing
    The baby awakes
    But the little Lord Jesus
    No crying he makes.”
    This connects back to what we talking about in chapter one, how the “men” fighting the war were really babies. Basically they were handed guns and told “Here, go kill people. But don’t cry! Adults don’t cry.” If we assume that in chapter one the author’s thoughts reflect Billy’s (because the lines are often blurred), then as a Christ figure he is preaching non-violence to his children. This connects to the second example of when we see Jesus used on page 202, where we see the story of the time traveler who met Jesus at age twelve. In the story, a Roman soldier commissioned Jesus and his father to build a cross for a rabble-rouser to be executed on and they completed the task. Unknowingly, Jesus would suffer the same fate years later. This connects to the part where the author tells his sons not to work for companies that make massacre machinery because they are bad for everyone and may come back to bite you. I think Jesus is used towards the end of the book to show what Vonnegut is “preaching”.

  2. One theme or concept that I wrote about was the destructiveness of war. This is present through all of the book: The firebombing of Dresden, pretty much every time “so it goes” is mentioned, and lots of other places, its hard to pinpoint a specific place since it pretty much IS the book. I think that the destructiveness of war is inescapable and that maybe Billy was imagining the aliens and time travel as a way to escape that. This really connects to PTSD. PTSD is known for hallucinations and flash backs. Possibly this is Billy’s way of rationalizing all the death he has seen. This concept also connects to the symbol sight. Billy’s sight or lack there of is ironic since his job is to correct vision while he can’t clearly see himself.

  3. Today in class we talked about how Jesus and Christ relations have been made in the last part of the book. The way you described it to us in class today in other words made me compare Billy Pilgrim to the Jesus you were talking about. This could be very wrong but you mentioned how Jesus is described as a nobody that comes along trying to spread new ideologies and this reminds me of Billy because he has a very small role in the war which makes him a nobody in a sort of way and Billy also knows stuff about the 4th dimension that he tries to introduce. Again, this could be totally wrong but that is what came to my mind when I read and connected the Jesus passages and Billy

  4. What Jimmy said reminded me of how the book is alternatively titled ‘The Children’s Crusade”. Billy was an American fighting in the war, and he is a ‘child’ as Jimmy said.

    Other than that, what kept me thinking about this book was the bird’s question in the end: “Poo-tee-weet?”. The syllables of this question reminded me of so it goes. I wonder if maybe this could be a sort of moment of reflection for the reader. Is this book just ‘so it goes’ for you? Or maybe you might feel more anti-war, even though for the majority of readers, that will not happen because this book is a failure.

  5. In class we talked about Billy’s happiest and saddest moments. His happiest moment was sleeping in the back of his wagon while his saddest moment was only a few minutes later when he saw the condition of the horses. While inside the wagon Billy was hidden from seeing all of the destruction outside. Once he stepped outside and saw the horses he realized how bad it was. I think that Billy represents us, the people living in our houses. We don’t always see what’s outside our ‘wagon’ and how bad it really is. The two horses represent the soldiers who fight for us. The soldiers fight, get injured, bleed, and die, all while we sit inside and don’t even think about the people who make our quality of life possible.

  6. Why did Vonnegut write the first and last chapters in first person from the narrators perspective and all the chapters in between in third person from billy pilgrims perspective? His own book about his experiences in the war isn’t even about himself. I think it has to do with the idea that so many people get killed in war or come back injured or with ptsd, andthe public/media glorifies war because it doesn’t affect us personally. So it’s like a big irony over the whole book, his war story is told from the someone else’s perspective, so it de-personalizes it, disconnects the experience from the author who experienced it, like how the public is disconnected from what war is really like.

  7. Something I noticed while I was doing some reading of my own is that in Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, the narrator uses the phase “So it goes” once in the exact same way the narrator in Slaughterhouse 5 uses that phrase. The narrator in Notes is a main character of the novel, a character who’s extremely ironic and is supposed to mirror the worse qualities of the reader and make the reader confront themselves. So, why does Kurt Vonnegut allude to this and what is he trying to say? [I did not bring this up because I’m almost certain no one else has read Notes From Underground, and therefore couldn’t really add anything because they’re not familiar with what the author is alluding to.]

  8. I think that the reason Vonnegut writes in a chopped up, non linear way (time jumping) is because that is the way the tralfamadorians look at things, there is no beginning or end they see everything at once. Vonnegut is trying to show the reader the way the trafalamdorians see things. I think that this is a theme of the book. As a soldier he had seen so many things and that don’t make sense to him, making him see things in a broad non sensical way, kind of how we read this book.

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