by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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Chapter 8 Summary

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Last Updated February 2, 2023.

Two days before the bombing of Dresden, the Americans in Slaughterhouse-Five receive an interesting visitor, Howard W. Campbell, Jr. Campbell is an American who has joined the Nazis and now writes propaganda describing the degenerate state of America. He wears a flamboyant uniform, including a ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots “decorated with swastikas and stars.” Most of the prisoners are apathetic, but Derby gives a speech defending American freedom and justice and telling Campbell he is “lower than a snake.” As Derby is speaking, the air-raid sirens begin to howl, and they all take shelter in a meat locker.

Billy sleeps and dreams about his favorite writer, Kilgore Trout. None of Trout’s books make money, so he lives in a rented basement in Ilium, and has a job managing the delivery boys for the local newspaper. He has only ever received one fan letter, from Eliot Rosewater, whom he assumes is a teenager. Billy invites Trout to a party for his eighteenth wedding anniversary, where Trout frightens the guests—and even Billy—with his strange observations. Billy remembers the bombing of Dresden without traveling in time. Then he returns to the zoo on Tralfamadore, where he tells Montana Wildhack, now pregnant with his child, about the bombing.

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