Quotes or quotations are important lines in the work of fiction. It is due to memorable quotes, the novel catches the reader’s attention, as they serve a constant delight to the readers. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, has quotes which leave a profound impression on the readers. Some of the critical quotes of Slaughterhouse-Five have been analyzed below.
Quotes in Slaughterhouse-Five
“The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”
The author, Kurt Vonnegut speaks these words when he attempts to write about the Dresden Bombing. He tells his professor that the war has made people tough and has changed the personalities of the people. He further explains that the kind people who loved to be happy and kind hated the war, were the best soldiers who fought for their countries.
It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.”
Vonnegut says these words to the publisher, Sam. He accepts that his novel is not structured well and feels sorry for the problems he faced while writing the anti-war book about the Dresden Bombing. Vonnegut tries to explain that this massacre was so dreadful that it doesn’t require a chronological story, every time and place were affected in the same way. To him, these massacres only brought death, destruction, and never-ending horrors. This quote shows the writer’s sentiments related to war and its aftermaths.
Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is “so it goes.”
Billy speaks these lines in the second chapter as he agrees with the belief of the Tralfamadorians. He explains the refrain of the book that occurs after every mention of the death. The phrase shows the inevitability of death, especially in the case of warfare. Unlike Tralfamadorians, Billy also accepts that death is unavoidable. This quote shows how mass death has become a common phenomenon in the wars.
“Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.”
The narrator speaks these words when describing the uneven course of Billy’s life. He is trying to say that Billy is fully aware of his planetary movement, and he accepts that he cannot change it. Throughout the novel, Billy remains passive and accepts everything that happens to him. Billy admits that he has no control over fate and time. Therefore, it is due to this belief he is unable to face the most traumatic events in life. This quote shows Billy has no free will.
“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”
A Tralfamadorian speaks these lines when he talks about the philosophy of free will. Disturbed by the brutalities of war, Billy Pilgrim creates an imaginary planet where free will does not exist. However, the inhabitants of that planet are learned, fast and equipped with the knowledge of the fourth dimension. Here, a Tralfamadorian is trying to explain the pessimistic nature of human beings, who are desperate to talk about free will. This quote shows the dilemma of Billy’s life who constantly longs for free will.
“So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a big help.”
Here, Vonnegut tries to give an insight into Billy and his roommate, Eliot, after the war. Both men have faced the horrors of war. Traumatized and disturbed, they end up seeking comfort in science fiction written by Kilgore Trout. Although they belong to different backgrounds and have different experiences, yet the destructive war has brought them closer where they share common interests to escape the bitter memories of war.
“That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do….: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.”
Tralfamadorian’s guide expresses that human beings are pessimists and always recall bitter past experiences of their lives. According to the philosophy of Tralfamadorians, they should ignore the harsh and bitter experiences of the past and should adore the joys and pleasures life offers them. The same belief is narrated in the opening chapter of the novel where the writer accepts that he is always trapped in the memories of war and its destruction. Hence, it appears that he is stuck in time. This quote is significant in that it gives a message of hope that life should go on, and that we should not mourn over the bad incidents that happened in the past.
You needn’t worry about bombs, by the way. Dresden is an open city. It is undefended.
A British colonel is talking to Billy about the Dresden Bombing. The writer implies situational irony. Billy is worried about Dresden Bombing as the city will be destroyed in a few days. But colonel’s words demonstrate that Dresden is being destroyed on purpose and is not an important strategic target. So, to the leaders, the lost millions of lives are not important. This quote shows the inhumane stance of the solider toward a horrible massacre.
If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still–if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”
Vonnegut says that he is not overwhelmed with Billy’s planetary moment, and the philosophies of life and death he learned from Tralfamadorians. Though he suffered from his war-torn mind, yet he remained optimistic and tried to rejoice the happy moments of life. This quote shows that life will move on no matter you go with the flow or stay stuck in time.
“One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo-tee-weet?”
The novel ends with bird’s chirp at Billy when he finally wins freedom. Vonnegut ends the text with this nonsensical and unintelligible question, implying war and the Dresden Bombing were senseless acts. Like Billy, Vonnegut also fails to develop a sense of the war. The same question was posed in chapter one just to show that human beings are like animals capable of violence, and the birds are left to question this horrific act. This quote shows that war has brought massive destruction, and there is very less hope of any change.