The first chapter of Slaugterhouse Five is an example of a frame narrative. It also serves as a preface, which would usually be kept separate from the book proper but is included here as part of the narrative. The novel’s themes and its larger moral commentary are presented largely without artifice in the first chapter.
Chapter 1 Study Questions:
- What is the function of the first chapter in the book? What purpose does it serve?
- How does the first chapter of Slaughterhouse Five relate to the style of the rest of the novel? (Or: What are some similarities in style between Chapter 1 and the rest of the book?)
- Does the inclusion of Chapter 1 as part of the novel lead you to believe or disbelieve the rest of the story?
- Does this chapter work to fictionalize or de-fictionalize the novel?
- What moral commentary is made in Chapter 1 regarding war? Friendship? Profession?
- What kind of predictions can be made about the rest of the book based on the first chapter?
- Based on the first chapter, what is the relationship of Billy to the book’s author?
- What themes are established in the novel’s opening chapter?
- How does the first chapter prepare the reader to believe and to disbelieve in the story that is presented?
- What details can you point to which suggest the narrator is potentially unreliable?
- What details can you point to which suggest that the narrator is honest and reliable?