Slaughterhouse-Five

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A middle-aged English teacher from Indianapolis, Edgar Derby is a passionate, upright, and courageous soldier who cares for Billy when he falls ill in the German POW camp. Derby later defends American ideals to Howard W. Campbell, Jr., and is executed for stealing a teapot amid the rubble of Dresden.

Edgar Derby Quotes in Slaughterhouse-Five

The Slaughterhouse-Five quotes below are all either spoken by Edgar Derby or refer to Edgar Derby. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Death Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dell edition of Slaughterhouse-Five published in 1991.
Chapter 8 Quotes

He spoke of the brotherhood between the American and the Russian people, and how those two nations were going to crush the disease of Nazism, which wanted to infect the whole world. The air-raid sirens of Dresden howled mournfully.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Edgar Derby
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Derby is fighting against the horrible speech delivered by a man named Campbell, a defector from the American cause who wears a "red-white-and-blue swastika" on his armband, and who believes that the only way for the Americans to finish the war is by banding together with the Germans.

Derby, who has not spoken out in this way through much of the novel, argues that the war really is a war of ideals, and that American and Russian ideals, different though they may be, must unite in order to defeat National Socialism. Derby's argument is perhaps not exactly the argument that Americans themselves would use - he probably overplays the natural alliance between America and the Soviet Union, who would themselves become enemies within a year of the war being over. But his speech nevertheless offers, in distilled form, an argument for freedom and democracy over terror, demagoguery, and fear. 

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Edgar Derby Character Timeline in Slaughterhouse-Five

The timeline below shows where the character Edgar Derby appears in Slaughterhouse-Five. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Money and Success Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...the book. O’Hare claims to remember little. Vonnegut plans to use the death of Edgar Derby, a character introduced later, as the book’s climax: Derby was executed immediately following the firebombing... (full context)
Chapter 4
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
...protocol used when Pilgrim is abducted and taken to Tralfamadore. Walking near Pilgrim is Edgar Derby, a forty-four year old English teacher from Indianapolis, who held Weary’s head as he died... (full context)
Chapter 5
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Pilgrim, Lazzaro, Derby, and others are led to a shed filled with British POWs who have been in... (full context)
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science Fiction and Aliens Theme Icon
Money and Success Theme Icon
...laughing. He is carted into the camp’s medical quarters, sedated, and put on bed rest. Derby watches over him and reads The Red Badge of Courage. Billy has a dream that... (full context)
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
Billy comes unstuck and is back in the war. Derby is still reading to him and Billy sees Derby’s execution in the near future. An... (full context)
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science Fiction and Aliens Theme Icon
Money and Success Theme Icon
...Vonnegut thinks also describes himself: “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” Valencia asks Billy about Derby’s execution. (full context)
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
Billy comes unstuck and is in the POW hospital in 1944. Derby is asleep. Billy wanders outside, dancing, and becomes snagged on a fence, only to be... (full context)
Chapter 6
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
Billy, Lazzaro, and Derby go to the theater in the camp, where an election is to be held among... (full context)
Chapter 7
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...Back in 1944, a very young German soldier named Werner Gluck is leading Billy and Derby to the slaughterhouse kitchen. They stumble upon a group of 30-some young girls showering—Billy and... (full context)
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...a malt syrup factory. Billy takes some syrup, finds it rapturously delicious, and gives to Derby, who is so happy to eat it he cries. (full context)
Chapter 8
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...tired from eating so much syrup and barely listen to Campbell. As Campbell speaks, however, Derby rises, and Vonnegut interjects that, although the story has had few dramatic moments up till... (full context)
Chapter 9
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science Fiction and Aliens Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...been time-traveling. She also knows that he was a “clown” in the war and that Derby was shot. Montana is nursing her and Billy’s child, and between her bare breasts is... (full context)
Chapter 10
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...flamethrowers to incinerate the corpses and prevent the smell. One of the corpses burnt is Derby’s; he was buried there after his execution. (full context)