© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



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.