Slaughterhouse-Five Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Why does the author continually use "so it goes" in Slaughterhouse-Five?

The author continually uses the phrase "so it goes" after every mention of death and mortality in Slaughterhouse-Five. It reflects the belief of the Tralfamadorians that someone who is dead in one moment is alive at another moments of their life. This is because all time exists at once. So when confronted with death, Billy doesn't need to worry. He can simply shrug his shoulders and say, "So it goes."

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Billy is able to display a flippant attitude to death and mortality because he has been influenced by the Tralfamadorians, a strange race of aliens who bring him back to their planet to exhibit him in a zoo. Constantly surrounded by death, bloodshed, and destruction, Billy has to figure out a way to deal with life's many horrors. Fortunately, the Tralfamadorians are on hand to give him a much-needed sense of perspective. According to their unique philosophy of time, time exists all at once. So if someone is dead at moment, they're alive at another.

This gives Billy a sense of peace when it comes to confronting dead people. Armed with this Tralfamadorian insight, he's able to deal with death more effectively, almost aloofly, as if it's really no big deal. Because of this, whenever he comes across a dead body, he simply shrugs his shoulders, says, "so it goes" and leaves it at that.

He knows, or thinks he knows, that though such people may be dead at this precise moment, they're alive at...

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