Chapter 3 Notes from Slaughterhouse-Five

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Slaughterhouse-Five Chapter 3

The narrator explains that the Germans and the dog were in a military operation which is seldom described in detail. "It is, in the imagination of combat's fans, the divinely listless loveplay that follows the orgasm of victory. It is called 'mopping up.'" Chapter 3, pg. 52 The dog, whose bark sounded so ferocious, was a female dog they borrowed from a farmer. Her name was Princess and she had never been to war. Two of the Germans were teens and two were old men, farmers, given the equipment of the dead. So it goes. The commander was middle-aged, scrawny, dried-out and tired of war. He took his golden cavalry boots from a dead Hungarian. So it goes. Billy Pilgrim saw Adam and Eve in his shiny boots. They were naked and innocent and he loved them. He also saw a pair of feet in rags and clogs. He saw an angel. The lovely boy helped him to his feet and searched him for weapons. Three shots sounded, which was the sound of the two scouts being shot from behind. So it goes. They took Weary's knife, promising in German to use it on him. They tore open his coat as if they meant to rip his heart out and took his bullet-proof Bible and the dirty picture. He switched Weary's good boots with the boy's clogs and made Billy and Weary walk miles. They were taken to a cottage where other captured Americans sat. Billy went to sleep on the shoulder of a rabbi who had been shot through the hand. Billy traveled in time and found himself in his optometrist's office, having fallen asleep during an examination. The patient thought he had found something terrible because he was quiet. When she left, he opened the drapes and saw thousands of cars. He owned a Cadillac, a gift from his father-in-law. Billy realized that he was old and asked himself where all the years went. He went to his desk and read an article he did not care about. A siren went off for high noon, scaring him, since he expected World War Three at any moment.

When he opened his eyes again, he was back in World War II. The American soldiers were paraded outside. A German photographer took pictures of Weary and Billy's ill-equipped feet, which were used to show that the American army was not so rich after all.

The photographer also staged a photo of a capture by throwing Billy into the bushes and having soldiers pull pistols on him. He emerged with a goofy smile, as he had traveled to 1967, riding to a Lions Club meeting in his Cadillac. He passed through the black ghetto in his air-conditioned car, and it reminded him of some burnt-down towns he had seen during the war.

Topic Tracking: Anti-War 8
Topic Tracking: Humor 10

The speaker at the meeting was in the Marines and spoke about how America must keep fighting in Vietnam until they win or the Communists realize they cannot force themselves on weak countries. He was in favor of more bombing. Billy was not against it or for it; he was simply having lunch with a club of which he was president. Billy had a framed motivational poem on his wall which the patients liked, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference." Chapter 3, pg. 60 The narrator explains that Billy cannot change are the past, present and future. Billy was introduced as a veteran with a son in the Green Berets. The Marine told him he should be proud. He took a nap after lunch under doctor's orders after he had complained about unexplainable weeping.

Topic Tracking: Anti-War 9

Billy was very rich. He never expected to be. He owned a house, a business, part of a hotel, and ice cream stands. He had no servants, the narrator explains, because people just weren't interested in careers in domestic services anymore. There had been a dog, Spot, but it died. So it goes.

His bed had a vibrating function, on the recommendation of his doctor. Billy undressed and tried to nap, but cried instead. The doorbell rang and Billy looked and saw a crippled man, whom the narrator describes as spastic in space as Billy is in time, flapping around as if he were trying to imitate a famous movie star. Billy knew he was scamming, selling subscriptions to magazines that would never come. He heard about it at the Lions Club. He saw a Buick which he knew belongs to their boss. He wept and traveled back in time.

Back in Luxembourg, he was marching with other Americans. He kept bumping into Weary accidentally. The narrator describes their feet as blood puddings. There were tens of thousands of humiliated marching Americans, each small group joining a larger one. Billy smiled at each soldier. There were vehicles on the road which were rushing new German reserves with machine guns, sausages, and cigars, eager to fight. One soldier, drunk spat his tobacco-snot-sausage-liquor spit on Weary. Billy was bobbing up and down excitedly; there was so much to see. He saw a farmhouse and a colonel with a whore.

Topic Tracking: Humor 11

When they reached Germany, a motion-picture camera was recording the German victory. It focused on Billy, then back into the distance, where there was a battle and people were dying. So it goes. The soldiers were loaded onto boxcars.

They were sorted into ranks. A colonel with pneumonia asked if he was in his regiment. He had lost most of his men. Billy did not know what regiment he was in. The colonel yelled out to his troops that he was there, Wild Bob. Only Roland Weary was from his troop, but he couldn't hear over the agony in his feet. Staring into Billy's eyes, the colonel imagined that he was addressing his troops. He tells them that if they are ever in Cody, Wyoming, to ask for Wild Bob. Billy's head rang with the nonsense. The narrator says that he was there, too, with Bernard V. O'Hare.

The soldiers were packed tightly into the boxcars and Billy and Weary were separated. Germans wrote in blue chalk the ranks and number of people in each car. Most of the soldiers in Billy's car were young. A former hobo told him that it wasn't so bad.

Billy heard a man yell that a man in his car had died. So it goes. The guards did not open this door, but went into the next, where Billy saw their comparably luxurious home, with blankets and a stove and food and pictures on the walls. They smoked cigars in there and wagged their fingers at Billy. They finally went to the car with the colonels, which was not very crowded at all, and took out the dead man, who is Wild Bob. So it goes.

Topic Tracking: Death 10

Some trains left during the night. They were marked with orange and black to indicate that they were full of prisoners and should not be bombed. The war was almost over. German prisons were full. Billy's train did not move for two days. The hobo said it wasn't that bad. The train was locked. Each car became one living organism which ate, drank, and excreted through ventilators. The soldiers excreted into steel helmets which were dumped out of the boxcars. When the food came in, they shared. The narrator describes them as quiet and trusting and beautiful.

They took turns standing and lying down. "The legs of those who stood were like fence posts driven into a warm, squirming, farting, sighing earth. The queer earth was a mosaic of sleepers who nestled like spoons." Chapter 3, pg. 70 Billy spooned with the hobo. When he fell asleep, he time-traveled to the night he was abducted.

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