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by Kurt Vonnegut
The Narrator Timeline and Summary
The narrator talks about having been in World War II. He knows a guy who was shot for stealing a teapot, like Edgar Derby in the novel. He also knows a guy who threatened to have his enemies killed, like Paul Lazzaro. The narrator also witnesses the Dresden firestorm. He returns to the United States to study anthropology at the University of Chicago. After he finishes his degree, he becomes a journalist. He and his wife eventually move to Schenectady, New York, so that he can become a P.R. guy for General Electric. He starts planning his novel about Dresden by writing to the Air Force, which won't release any information to him because the raid is still top secret. Many years go by and the narrator becomes more successful. He has kids and makes money. The narrator finally signs a book contract with Seymour Lawrence to write three novels, one of which will be about Dresden. He goes to visit his old war buddy, Bernard O'Hare, so they can think up some stories about the war for him to write about. While he's visiting, Bernard's wife Mary tells the author not to write a book celebrating war. He promises Mary he will not: the narrator is going to write an anti-war book called The Children's Crusade. The narrator and Bernard O'Hare travel together to East Germany to look at the slaughterhouse where they stayed as prisoners of war. While there, they are driven in a taxi by a German veteran whose family died at Dresden. This guy's name is Gerhard Müller. The narrator dedicates Slaughterhouse-Five to Mary O'Hare and Gerhard Müller. And he publishes this very book.