Short-Answer Quizzes

Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Vonnegut say his breath smells like when he has been drinking?

2. What is strange about the set-up Mary O’Hare arranged for Vonnegut and her husband to talk about the war?

3. What does Vonnegut say World War II did for people?

4. Which previous occurrences of the destruction of cities does Vonnegut mention?

5. What is the only sound that disturbs the quiet following a massacre?

6. How does Vonnegut’s boss in Schenectady compare to the other veterans Vonnegut meets there?

7. How does Vonnegut describe the carp in the Hudson river?

8. Whose death sets off the first “so it goes?”

9. How many books does Vonnegut refer to reading in this chapter?

10. Why does Vonnegut say he loves Lot’s wife?

Answers
1. He says his breath smells like mustard gas and roses.

2. It is bright and uncomfortable, rather like an operating room.

3. World War II has made everyone very tough.

4. Vonnegut reads about the flattening of Dresden in 1760, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

5. The only exception to the general hush is the chirping of birds.

6. Vonnegut’s boss is hostile and implies there is something wrong with him for not having been an officer in the war. The other veterans are kind men who hate war because of their experiences fighting.

7. Vonnegut says they “were as big as atomic submarines.”

8. “So it goes” is said for the first time after Vonnegut mentions the Dresden taxi driver’s mother who was burnt to ashes in the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden.

9. Vonnegut mentions five books in Chapter One.

10. Vonnegut loves Lot’s wife, because her looking back to see Sodom and Gomorrah is “so human.”

Chapter 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the name of the fighting group to which Weary imagines he belongs?

2. How does Billy later find one of his army practice maneuvers to provide a Tralfamadorian type of adventure?

3. Why was Billy not missed while he was in the Tralfamadorian zoo?

4. Why does Billy say he did not talk about his adventures before the plane accident?

5. How do Tralfamadorians perceive time?

6. How do Tralfamadorians understand death?

7. What phrase is the Tralfamadorian response to death?

8. How does Billy’s vocation parallel his purpose in propounding Tralfamadorian philosophy?

9. How does Billy’s first time travel experience parallel his condition in real time?

10. Why do Billy and Weary surprise the German soldiers?

Answers
1. The group is called the Three Musketeers.

2. In later life, the experience of having his unit eat lunch after the men in it were pronounced “dead” struck him as a very Tralfamadorian experience.

3. Billy was taken through a time warp, so although he was on Tralfamadore for years, he was only gone from Earth for less than a second.

4. Billy thought the time was not ripe.

5. Tralfamadorians see time all at once, like a mountain range.

6. Tralfamadorians see death as just one bad moment, with plenty of other good moments of life existing alongside it.

7. “So it goes” is what the Tralfamadorians say about the dead.

8. Billy, who as an optometrist, helps people to see clearly, wants to provide vision for people’s souls.

9. In both events, Billy is peacefully waiting for death.

10. They do not understand why one American is trying to kill another. They also do not understand why Billy is laughing.

Chapter 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what context have the blue and white feet of this chapter’s corpses previously appeared?

2. What precise phrase describes the condition of Weary’s feet?

3. How do the actions of the teenaged German soldier toward Billy contrast to Weary’s treatment of him?

4. What underlying misconception fuels Wild Bob’s ranting?

5. How does Vonnegut humanize the German guards?

6. What heavenly visions does Billy have in this chapter?

7. What is ironic about Billy’s lack of discussion at the Lions Club meeting he attends in this chapter?

8. How does the adult Billy’s attitude toward his son’s profession differ from what Vonnegut says he has inculcated in his sons?

9. What does the former hobo have to say about conditions on the boxcar?

10. Why was Billy thrown into a shrubbery by the Germans?

Answers
1. Chapter Two described Billy as having blue and white feet as he typed in the basement of his frigid house.

2. They are being turned into “blood puddings.”

3. While Weary was ready to beat Billy senseless, the German boy helps Billy to his feet.

4. Wild Bob is still imagining that war is neat. He is essentially living in a war movie rather than in the reality of war.

5. Rather than shooting at Billy when he is seen looking out of the ventilator of his boxcar, the guard just wags his finger at him.

6. Billy sees Adam and Eve in a German soldier’s boots and a little paradise inside the guard’s boxcar.

7. Even though Billy has seen the tremendous destruction and suffering caused by the bombing of Dresden, he registers absolutely no response, spoken or unspoken, to the Marine major who gives a speech in favor of bombing North Korea back to the Stone Age.

8. While Billy tells the Marine major that he is proud of his Green Beret son, Vonnegut has said that he has told his sons never to take part in massacres.

9. He says things aren’t so bad.

10. They wanted to stage an “actual capture” for a German reporter to photograph.

Chapter 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where has the phrase “mustard gas and roses” previously appeared?

2. What promise does Paul Lazzaro make to Roland Weary before he dies?

3. Aside from crowding, what hardships do the Americans endure on their voyage to the prison camp?

4. How is Billy’s coat different from everyone else’s?

5. Give three details from this chapter that highlight the irony of Edgar Derby’s eventual execution.

6. Why is Billy not allowed to sleep on the floor with everyone else?

7. How does the Tralfamadorian say his kind sees time?

8. What two people die on the way to the prison?

9. For what purpose was the German camp constructed?

10. What is the first question Billy has for the Tralfamadorian?

Answers
1. Vonnegut used this phrase to describe his own breath in Chapter One.

2. Lazzaro promises to punish Billy Pilgrim for causing Weary’s death.

3. It is very cold outside, and they receive no more food.

4. Billy is the only person to receive a civilian’s coat.

5. First, Derby had to pull strings to get to fight in the war. Second, his treatment of Roland Weary shows him to be a good man. Third, Derby is one of the few men who actually appears fit enough to be a soldier.

6. He kicks and makes noise in his sleep.

7. He says Tralfamadorians see time stretched out like the Rocky Mountains.

8. Roland Weary and the kindly bum both die.

9. It was intended to be a place for the extermination of Russian captives.

10. Billy asks, “Why me?”

Chapter 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Billy dream of when he is on morphine?

2. How does the scene with the punched prisoner parallel an experience Billy has with the Tralfamadorians?

3. What does Eliot Rosewater have to say about The Brothers Kamazarov?

4. While visiting Billy what does Valencia’s chosen topic of conversation say about her personality?

5. What is the problem with the Bible as it stands, according to The Gospel from Outer Space?

6. At what two points does Vonnegut insert himself into the narrative of this chapter?

7. How does the universe end, according to the Tralfamadorians?

8. How is Montana Wildhack’s body described?

9. Why was Paul Lazzaro’s arm broken?

10. Why does Billy think he can make his young patient happy?

Answers
1. Billy dreams he is a giraffe.

2. Both prisoners ask, “Why me?” to which the German responds, “Why anybody?” and the Tralfamadorian, “Why anything?”

3. It used to contain everything there was to know about life, but it just wasn’t enough anymore.

4. Valencia’s discussion of silver patterns makes her appear to be very shallow.

5. The Bible teaches that it is okay to lynch people who have no connections, according to the alien narrator of Trout’s book.

6. Vonnegut says that Billy’s epitaph would be good “for me, too.” In concluding the passage about the sick American soldiers, Vonnegut says of one, “That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.”

7. An experimental Tralfamadorian jet fuel blows up the universe.

8. She is described as having baroque detailing, like the buildings of Dresden before they were bombed.

9. He was trying to steal cigarettes from one of the Englishmen.

10. If the little boy can grasp Billy’s philosophy of death, he’ll understand that he can see his father any time he wants to.

Chapters 6-7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Does Billy get committed to an asylum after the incident in his optometry office?

2. What does Paul Lazarro say is the sweetest thing in life?

3. Why does Billy take Cinderella’s silver boots?

4. What animal disease is used to describe Paul Lazarro?

5. Why are the Dresdeners the color of putty?

6. What mistake does Billy make after the plane crash?

7. Which of the “millions of things” that Billy dreams after his operation are true?

8. What sarcastic comment does the cook in the communal kitchen of the slaughterhouse make to Billy, Derby, and their 16-year-old guard?

9. What benefit does working at the malt syrup factory have?

10. Why are there spoons hidden all over the factory?

Answers
1. He is not committed. His Tralfamadorian philosophy apparently becomes very popular some time between the publication of his first letters and 1976.

2. He says that revenge is the sweetest thing.

3. His own shoes have been nearly destroyed.

4. Lazarro is described as “fizzing with rabies.” If he were a dog, he would have been shot.

5. They have been living off potatoes for two years.

6. He thinks he is back in World War II.

7. According to the text, the true things he dreams were time-travel.

8. She says that all of the real soldiers are dead.

9. The syrup is very nutritious and good to eat.

10. It is illegal to eat the syrup.

Chapter 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What detail about the hog barn shows how intense the firestorm that engulfed Dresden must have been?

2. What is Campbell’s final argument in favor of fighting the Russians?

3. Who does Barbara blame for Billy’s problems?

4. How does Trout’s book “The Gutless Wonder” recall Billy’s son, Robert?

5. Why does the narrator claim there are few to no characters in this story?

6. How did the troop of Americans come to have only four guards?

7. What episode immediately follows Billy’s recollection of the painful memory of Dresden?

8. How does Billy’s response to the barbershop quartet reflect a conversation he...

(The entire section is 338 words.)

Chapters 9-10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How do the aliens from Zircon-212 manipulate their human captives?

2. When did Billy previously read The Big Board?

3. What does the wagon Billy rides in look like?

4. What is the topic of the panel Billy sneaks into?

5. What killed the Maori soldier?

6. Where has the message on Montana’s necklace previously appeared?

7. Why is Barbara glassy-eyed when she comes to visit her father in the hospital?

8. Why does Rumfoord say the Air Force wanted to cover up the bombing of Dresden?

9. Which historical personage do the Tralfamadorians find fascinating?

10. Where has the special picture the...

(The entire section is 230 words.)