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Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five

by Kurt Vonnegut

Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

Weary's version of the true war story went like this. There was a big German attack, and Weary and his antitank buddies fought like hell until everybody was killed but Weary. So it goes. And then Weary tied in with two scouts, and they became close friends immediately, and they decided to fight their way back to their own lines. They were going to travel fast. They were damned if they'd surrender. They shook hands all around. They called themselves "The Three Musketeers." (2.24.3)

Even as Weary is in the middle of a real war, he fantasizes about what the war should be like. It's stories like Weary's that terrify and anger Mary O'Hare in the first chapter of the book. What does the novel suggest motivates Weary's bullying behavior? How does Weary's upbringing compare to Billy's? Do the differences between the two explain the differences in their characters?

Quote #5

The Germans and the dog were engaged in a military operation which had an amusingly self-explanatory name, a human enterprise which is seldom described in detail, whose name alone, when reported as news or history, gives many war enthusiasts a sort of post-coital satisfaction. It is, in the imagination of combat's fans, the divinely listless loveplay that follows the orgasm of victory. It is called "mopping up." (3.1.1)

Whoa, there's a lot of sexual imagery in this description of "mopping up" a battlefield. And Montana Wildhack describes Edgar Derby's execution much later in the novel as a "blue movie" – a pornographic film (9.33). Why does the narrator seem to connect war and violence with sex?

Quote #6

But the colonel imagined that he was addressing his beloved troops for the last time, and he told them that they had nothing to be ashamed of, that there were dead Germans all over the battlefield who wished to God they had never heard of the Four-fifty-first. . . .

He said all this while staring into Billy's eyes. He made the inside of poor Billy's skull echo with balderdash. (3.25.3-4)

What is the "balderdash" that Wild Bob is spouting here? What kind of comments might the narrator be making about Wild Bob's heroic speech to his imagined regiment?

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