Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five Symbol Analysis

Slaughterhouse-Five Symbol Icon
Although Slaughterhouse-Five as a physical space only appears in the novel in a few sections, it is a powerful symbol running through the entire work. It is, ironically, in this slaughterhouse where animals were killed and butchered that Billy, Derby, Lazzaro, and others are spared from the slaughter taking place outside: the firebombing of Dresden by Allied (US and UK) forces. But Billy is only protected by the slaughterhouse for so long: he eventually dies on Lazzaro’s order, in the 1970s, and his life between the war and his death is punctuated by violence and loss. Derby emerges from the slaughterhouse but is tried and executed for petty theft only days later. And Dresden, the larger “slaughterhouse” of Germany, becomes the novel's great and silent tragedy. Rumfoord, writing his own history, seeks more information about the bombings, as does Vonnegut as he researches his novel. Yet the more that is learned about the physical Slaughterhouse-Five, and about the Allied firebombings in Dresden, the more difficult it becomes to write about the horror of these events. Thus it has taken Vonnegut twenty-three years to compose his fragmented, time-shifting novel, and the book ends with the incineration of bodies that were not able to find a safe-haven from battle.

Slaughterhouse-Five Quotes in Slaughterhouse-Five

The Slaughterhouse-Five quotes below all refer to the symbol of Slaughterhouse-Five. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dell edition of Slaughterhouse-Five published in 1991.
Chapter 1 Quotes

All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I’ve changed all the names.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker)
Related Symbols: Slaughterhouse-Five
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui

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I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker)
Related Symbols: Slaughterhouse-Five
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident

Chapter 5 Quotes

And Billy had seen the greatest massacre in European history, which was the fire-bombing of Dresden. So it goes. So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a big help.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker), Billy Pilgrim, Eliot Rosewater
Related Symbols: Slaughterhouse-Five
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 8 Quotes

The rest of the guards had, before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were all being killed with their families.

Related Characters: Kurt Vonnegut (speaker)
Related Symbols: Slaughterhouse-Five
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia de

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Slaughterhouse-Five Symbol Timeline in Slaughterhouse-Five

The timeline below shows where the symbol Slaughterhouse-Five appears in Slaughterhouse-Five. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
...denture. The Americans are taken to their “home”: the fifth building of the Dresden Schlachthof-funf: Slaughterhouse-Five. (full context)
Chapter 7
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...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 Werner have never... (full context)
Chapter 8
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...the anti-American book read by the Germans in the POW camp, visits Billy’s group in Slaughterhouse-Five two days before the bombing of Dresden. He wishes to recruit Americans to fight with... (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
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
The Americans, their guards, and Campbell go to a meat locker beneath the slaughterhouse. The first night nothing happens, but the second night the bombing takes place and 130,000... (full context)
War and Death Theme Icon
Time, Time-travel, and Free Will Theme Icon
Witness and Truth Theme Icon
...flees upstairs. In his room he remembers—he does not “come unstuck”—the booming sounds above the slaughterhouse during the bombing, and the fact that everyone above was being killed. Everything in the... (full context)