Slaughterhouse-Five

by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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Vonnegut uses the phrase "so it goes" many times in not only the introductory chapter you read, but throughout the entire book Slaughterhouse-five. Based on the way it is used in this first chapter, discuss the meaning and purpose of the phrase. and Based only on Vonnegut's strange introduction, what can you predict about the rest of the book? How has this first question "set things up" for the reader?

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The phrase is emblematic of the violent events of history that form the background of Vonnegut's novel.

Billy Pilgrim is presented to us as a victim, a man who neither understands nor is able to control the forces that affect him and the rest of the world. "And so it...

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The phrase is emblematic of the violent events of history that form the background of Vonnegut's novel.

Billy Pilgrim is presented to us as a victim, a man who neither understands nor is able to control the forces that affect him and the rest of the world. "And so it goes" is the observation such a person would make in reaction to all of this, as if to say that there's nothing any of us can do to stop the machinery of history, the warfare and mass killings. The title of the novel refers to the place the Germans tell the American prisoners to report to in Dresden: Schlachtenhof-fünf. But it alludes, by extension, to the world as a whole which, given the violence that has taken place over the centuries, is itself like a gigantic slaughterhouse. The destruction in World War II makes no more sense to Pilgrim than his fluid movement through time and his abduction by the aliens of Tralfamadore. One can only remark, in a powerless aside, that these are irrational events to which we respond with a kind of hopeless indifference: "and so it goes," that this is the way things are.

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