by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated February 2, 2023.

The German soldiers take Billy and Roland Weary to a cottage where they are keeping other American prisoners of war. Billy comes unstuck in time and travels back and forth between 1944 and 1967, when he is a prosperous middle-aged optometrist whose son is fighting in Vietnam. He attends a Lions Club meeting where the speaker, an army officer, tells him he should be proud of his son’s military service, and Billy agrees. However, when he goes home and tries to sleep, he starts crying and then finds himself back in 1944.

Billy marches with the German soldiers and the other American prisoners out of Luxembourg towards Germany. He sees beautiful halos of St. Elmo’s fire, “a sort of electronic radiance around the heads of his companions and captors.” Later, on the train to the POW camp, he meets a colonel called Wild Bob, who tells him they will be reunited at a barbecue at his house in Cody, Wyoming, where they will cook whole steers. Billy is taken to another car, where he falls asleep and is transported back to 1967.

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