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Chapter 7 Notes from Slaughterhouse-Five

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Slaughterhouse-Five Chapter 7

Billy got into a chartered airplane. He knew that it was going to crash, but he didn't want to make a fool of himself by saying so. He was going to an optometrists' convention in Montreal. His wife was outside with a candy bar and his father-in-law Lionel was next to him. The narrator explains that Lionel was a machine, that Tralfamadorians believe that every creature and plant is a machine, and they find it funny that people are offended by it.

The moment was structured so that the plane took off without incident. There was a barbershop on board called "The Febs" which stood for "Four-Eyed Bastards." They sang Lionel his favorite song: "In my prison cell I sit,/ With my britches full of shit,/ And my balls are bouncing gently on the floor./ And I see the bloody snag/ When she bit me in the bag./ Oh I'll never fuck a Polack any more." Chapter 7, pg. 155 Billy once accidentally saw a Pole hanged in Dresden, a farm laborer hung for having sex with a German woman. So it goes.

Billy knew they were about to crash, so he imagined he was back in the ditch in Luxembourg with the Three Musketeers, telling them to continue without him. The plane hit the top of a mountain. Everybody was killed except Billy and the copilot. So it goes. Austrian ski instructors found them, speaking German as they went from body to body. Their strange skiing attire made them look like they were golliwogs, which, the narrator explains, were white people who pretended to be blacks to get laughs. Billy's skull was fractured, but he was still conscious. One of the golliwogs leaned in to hear what they thought would be his last words, and he whispered "Schlachthof-funf." They brought him down the mountain on a toboggan. Billy looked up at a chair lift and assumed they were part of a radical new phase of World War II. Everything was pretty much all right.

Topic Tracking: Death 14
Topic Tracking: Anti-War 16

He was taken to a small private hospital where a surgeon operated on his brain for three hours. He dreamed millions of things, some of them true, like time-travel. He dreamed of his first evening in the slaughterhouse, of pushing a cart with Edgar Derby. A sixteen-year-old named Werner Gluck guarded them. The axels were greased with with the fat of dead animals. So it goes. The sunset lit up the city, which was blacked out in case the bombers came. The Elbe river would have reflected the lights beautifully.

Werner Gluck had never been in the slaughterhouse before. He and Billy did not know that they were distant cousins. He had a heavy musket with a bayonet. He tried to take them to a kitchen but wandered accidentally to a shower, where dozens of teen-age girls screamed to see them. Neither Werner Gluck nor Billy had seen a naked woman before.

They found the kitchen, where it was their job to cook for the workers in the slaughterhouse. There was a woman waiting for them. She asked Derby if he wasn't too old to be in the army and he admitted he was. She asked Billy what his costume was and he said he was trying to keep warm. She said all the real soldiers were dead. It was true, adds the narrator. So it goes.

During their month in Dresden, the prisoners did lots of cleaning and factory work. One of the factories made malt syrup enriched with vitamins and minerals, which was for pregnant women. Everybody who worked there ate it while they worked. They hid the spoons they used to eat it, as spooning was a crime. Billy thrust a spoon into the vat and ate the gooey lollipop and every cell in his body applauded gratefully. Derby rapped on the factory window once, and Billy made him a lollipop, too. Derby burst into tears.

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