Study Guide

Slaughterhouse-Five Chapter 5, Section 12

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 5, Section 12

  • The guys who are serenading the new prisoners are English, the first English-speaking prisoners taken in the war. They've been in this camp for years.
  • They're all officers, and they have all tried to escape from other prisons at least once.
  • They can't break out of this one, though, because there's nowhere to go: the POW barracks are surrounded by camps of starving Russians. Even if they managed to tunnel out of their own prison, they would just wind up in another one.
  • The Englishmen are in great physical shape: they've basically been spending the last four years working out and eating Red Cross rations.
  • Thanks to a bureaucratic error, the English soldiers have been getting extra food and supplies that are keeping them better fed than pretty much anyone else in Europe during the war.