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Slaughterhouse Five Timeline
Transcript of Slaughterhouse Five Timeline
School of Optometry, Billy is drafted for military service in WWII to fight the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. 1944 In 1944, during WWII, Billy first becomes "unstuck in time." He swings through his entire life, reliving:
his first swimming lesson with his dad, when he nearly drowned
his visit to his decrepit mother at an old people's home in 1965
his attendance at his son's Little League banquet in 1958 1944 Billy's father dies Let's begin with the event that distorted Billy's perspective on his life... In 1968, Billy's plane crashed. He suffered major cerebral damages which affected how he perceived life from then on. "Billy had a fractured skull" (156) "Rumfoord could hear Billy talking to himself from time to time" (183)
This is proof of Billy's descent into a state of insanity. He loses perception of what is real and what he fabricates.
Billy's fabrications were created from his adventures to the... 1968
The Big Board was a book by Kilgore Trout that Billy picked up and realized that he had read it "years ago, in the veteran's hospital. It was about an Earthling man and woman who were kidnapped by extra-terrestrials. They were put on display in a zoo on a planet called Zircon 212" (201).
The plot of The Big Board parallels Billy's fictitious adventures to Tralfamadore. "Another Kilgore Trout book there in the window was about a man who built a time machine so he could go back and see Jesus" (202)
This story influences Billy into believing he wields the power to travel in time. However, this ability is actually becoming unstuck in his mind and not actually physically traveling through time. The mind-boggling effects of the plane crash shatter Billy's perception of his past. By reading Kilgore Trout's fictional novels, Billy merges the plot lines of the science fictional stories and his own memory of his past to create a fantastical history. Keeping these connections in mind... Let's travel back to the very beginning of Billy's life. December 1944 The last mighty German attack of the war Billy and Roland Weary are trapped behind enemy lines. Billy eventually joins up with two other scouts. Together, the scouts and Weary made up the Three Musketeers. "His father died in a hunting accident during the war. So it goes" (24) 1944 Continued... Shortly after, Billy and Roland Weary are captured by the Germans and forced to march in a line amongst other detained soldiers to a railway yard. There, the soldiers board a train, and Billy and Roland are placed into separate boxcars. Roland dies in the hands of a high school teacher, Edgar Derby. "He had been in Roland Weary's car, had cradled Weary's head while he died. So it goes" (83) 1945 Billy is sent to Dresden "There were people who had been caught in the firestorm. So it goes" (179) 1945 Billy is honorably discharged from the army. He enrolls in the Ilium School of Optometry 1948 Billy admits himself into a Veteran's hospital near Lake Placid where he meets Eliot Rosewater who sparks Billy's interest in Kilgore Trout. MENTAL BREAKDOWN After recovering, Billy fulfills the idyllic America lifestyle, marrying Valencia and raising two children with the financial security of an optometry degree. 1967 During his daughter's wedding, Billy ventures out to meet the flying saucer and the aliens he knows are going to kidnap him. These upside-down plunger-shaped aliens take Biilly to the planet Tralfamadore, where he meets Montana WIldhack. They are showcased in a zoo, where Tralfamadorians can observe the Earthlings. The Tralfamadorians introduce their perception of time to Billy, comparing all time to a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. " All time is time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is." (86) The Tralfamadorians claim that humans' view of a point in time was as limited as gazing through a sphere with a single eyehole. Six feet of pipe were welded to the eyehole, and the human gazing was bolted to a flatcar on rails with no way to turn his head or touch the pipe. "Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, "That's life." (115) February 13, 1976 Paul Lazzaro kills Billy. "I, Billy Pilgrim, the tape begins, will die, have died, and always will die on February thirteenth, 1976" (141) 1968 "Billy [knew] the plane was going to crash pretty soon, closed his eyes" (156) Billy broadcasts his stories on the radio. "There was a radio station right next to Billy's hotel...They were literary critics, and they thought Billy was one, too" (205) Valencia dies of carbon monoxide poisoning After returning to Earth, Billy, having kept his experiences on Tralfamadore to himself, boards a plane to an optometry conference in Montreal. Billy chose not to act on the fact that he knew the plane was going to crash. He has given up the human idea of free will and fully believes that there is nothing he can do; whatever will happen, will happen. "Poor Valencia was unconscious, overcome by carbon monoxide...One hour later she was dead. So it goes" (183) "Only on Earth is there any talk of free will" (86) Because everything happens simultaneously, one must learn to accept their fate. It shows that Billy's own memories have been distorted, that he remembers what he felt in that moment. "So it goes" "So it goes," Billy's mantra throughout the book, always follows death, emphasizing the inevitability of death and death's omnipresence. "In the next moment, Billy Pilgrim is dead. So it goes" (143)