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by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Section.Paragraph)

Quote #10

Billy found two small sources [of animal magnetism], two lumps an inch apart and hidden in the lining [of his jacket]. One was shaped like a pea. The other was shaped like a tiny horseshoe. Billy received a message carried by the radiation. He was told not to find out what the lumps were. He was advised to be content with knowing that they could work miracles for him, provided he did not insist on learning their nature. That was all right with Billy Pilgrim. He was grateful. He was glad. (6.1.7)

This whole bit about animal magnetism is odd, to say the least, and it's one of the few moments when the narrator refuses to explain something. In fact, the two lumps are a diamond (which Billy gives to Valencia after the war) and a partial denture (which Billy keeps in a box). The source of their power remains completely obscure.

But we find it interesting that Billy is totally satisfied that "they could work miracles for him, provided he did not insist on learning their nature." Billy has no curiosity; he just wants to go along and get along. Perhaps this provides one explanation for why he is okay with the idea that he has no free will: he never, ever wants to make choices or rock the boat.

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