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by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five Men and Masculinity Quotes

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

Quote #7

In time, Montana came to love and trust Billy Pilgrim. He did not touch her until she made it clear that she wanted him to. After she had been on Tralfamadore for what would have been an Earthling week, she asked him shyly if he wouldn't sleep with her. Which he did. It was heavenly. (5.64.1)

This whole thing with Montana—don't even get us started. This idea that Montana would fall in love with Billy after a week is pretty hilarious. Billy wants to have sex with Montana, but he also wants to have at least a little bit of power over her, so he imagines waiting for her to come to him because she wants him so badly.

After this whole book, in which Billy has been deprived of choice so many times, here he has his dream girl shyly asking him if he wants to have sex with her, as though he'd be doing her a favor: a perfect fantasy.

Quote #8

What the Englishman said about survival was this: "If you stop taking pride in your appearance, you will very soon die." He said that he had seen several men die in the following way: "They ceased to stand up straight, then ceased to shave or wash, then ceased to get out of bed, then ceased to talk, then died." (6.13.1)

The narrator specifies several times that Billy has a straggly beard for much of his time as a POW—and yet he lives. Of course, he is not exactly the Englishman's model soldier. Perhaps a soldier of the English officer's kind would die from lack of self-respect, but Billy doesn't seem to have had much self-respect to start with.

Quote #9

[A kitchen worker near the slaughterhouse] asked [the German guard, Werner] Gluck if he wasn't awfully young to be in the army. He admitted that he was.

She asked Derby if he wasn't awfully old to be in the army. He said he was.

She asked Billy Pilgrim what he was supposed to be. Billy said he didn't know. He was just trying to keep warm. (7.9.3-5)

This is a kind of funny spin on the Goldilocks story: too young, too old, just wrong. All this surprise over Billy's physical condition emphasizes how shocking it is that he should be selected for survival among these much stronger, perhaps even more deserving men. And yet, he survives.

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