Tim works in a meatpacking plant during the summer of 1968. He keeps his draft notice tucked away and does a great deal of soul-searching that summer in deciding whether to go to war or run away to Canada.
Tim's job is quite important in understanding who he is at the time. He hates his assembly line job removing blood clots from the pigs. He calls it a "disassembly line" and complains that he goes home "smelling of pig. It wouldn't go away." Everything about his job at the plant disgusts him, yet he continues to work there. Even after a shower, the pig smell stays with him, and he complains that he cannot get dates because his skin and his hair reek of pig. Despite these terrible consequences, Tim continues working at the plant, feeling he has no choice.
He believes this lack of choice also extends to the draft notice. Tim states that he feels lonely because he is alone. His being alone is literal as well as figurative. He knows that no one can help him make up his mind about whether to go to war, and no one will be there with him no matter where he goes. If he goes to Vietnam, he leaves his loved ones behind. If he runs to Canada, he leaves his loved ones behind. Either way, he risks losing everything. He says "my life seemed to be collapsing toward slaughter. I felt paralyzed." Although he contemplates running, in the end, Tim decides to go to war merely because he's too embarrassed not to.