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In Chapter 4 of Slaughterhouse-Five, what do you notice about the difference in the two...

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cenicienta | Valedictorian

Posted September 22, 2012 at 3:21 AM via web

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In Chapter 4 of Slaughterhouse-Five, what do you notice about the difference in the two deaths on the “Ninth Day” (the hobo vs. Roland Weary)?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM (Answer #1)

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The differences between the two deaths on the ninth day are characterised by self-awareness. The forty-year-old hobo is described as being completely unaware, either consciously or unconsciously, that he is dying. This is shown through his repeated refrain, that also feature as his last words: "You think this is bad? This ain't bad." The hobo is portrayed as constantly denying the reality of the situation they are all facing, and his final words show that he is ignoring or at the very least unaware that he is soon to die.

Ronald Weary, by contrast, is presented as a character who is very aware that his death is imminent. Note how he is presented in contrast to the hobo:

Weary, in his nearly continuous delirium, told again and again of the Three Musketeers, acknowledged that he was dying, gave many messages to be delivered to his family in Pittsburgh.

Ronald Weary therefore is very much aware of his own mortality and of his own rapidly approaching death. This of course also ties into a later stage of the plot of this novel, as Weary is a man who wants revenge for the perpetrator of his death, and he comes to believe that Billy Pilgrim is the man who caused his premature death, which is something that indirectly leads to Billy Pilgrim's own death years later.

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