Slaughterhouse-Five Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Slaughterhouse-Five

Billy Pilgrim is taken to a zoo on another planet where aliens teach him he can exist at any point in time. Billy Pilgrim is a World War II vet that lives in a Balkanized United States of the near future/ alternate future that is then taken to an alien zoo as an exhibit. The aliens teach him that he can exist at any point along his timeline. They encourage him to live in the good times, but being human, his mind takes him to the more traumatic moments.
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Through a disjointed timeline, the story follows Billy through the war. He is captured by Nazis. He is taken by train to a prisoner camp. On the train, Billy angers a man that decides he wants to kill Billy, but they are separated. The British soldiers in the camp have plenty of supplies due to a paperwork error. The Americans become sick from eating too well and British separate from them.

Billy ends up transferred with prisoners to a slaughterhouse where they clean up from Allied bombings. Eventually, the bombings are so bad that the city is beyond repair. Billy is released at the end of the war.

In the future of the novel, America splits into several hostile regions. It is almost impossible for Billy to cross the country even for one speech. Billy realizes while in the zoo that he was killed by a man paid by the enemy he angered on the train.

Billy continues to jump back and relive the violence of the war and the terror of the bombings in the slaughterhouse.
Best part of story, including ending: It has a unique style and uses aliens, time travel, and history in ways other novels have not.

Best scene in story: I like Billy describing the aliens looking at him in the exhibit in the zoo. It is facinating and telling about the strangeness of being human.

Opinion about the main character: Billy Pilgrim can't stop reliving a painful past even though he knows he could which is what most humans do in real life.

The review of this Book prepared by Jay Wilburn a Level 2 American Robin scholar

Chapter Analysis of Slaughterhouse-Five

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   cynical or dry-wit FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Time Travel story?    -   Yes Story largely takes place in    -   1900-1960's

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   infantry soldier Age:    -   60's-90's


Terrain    -   Domed/Underground City Earth setting:    -   20th century A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   neutral aliens Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Kurt Vonnegut Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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