Book No. 39 – Slaughterhouse Five

2 Apr

Book number 39 is called Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a pretty well known book and for good reason. I have known about this book for a long time and it has always been on my list of books to read before I die, so I figured it was time to just sit my lazy butt down and read it. This book is so unique and once I reached the end I couldn’t help but scream “WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED!?!!”

Slaughterhouse-Five is about a soldier, Billy Pilgrim, and his World War II experiences and journey through time. Billy is an American soldier who is captured by the Germans at The Battle of The Bulge. The Germans put Billy and his fellow prisoners in a slaughterhouse in Dresden and their building is known as “Slaughterhouse number 5”. At the beginning of the book it is announced that Billy has come “unstuck in time” and experiences past and future events out of order and repeatedly. He is also abducted by extraterrestrial aliens from the planet Tralfamadore where he is treated like a zoo animal along with a movie star named Montana. The Tralfamadorians, like Billy Pilgrim, have already seen every instant of their lives. Billy asks them why they don’t change things that have happened in their lives and they respond that they can’t because everything that happens is supposed to happen, and everything that is done was always meant to be done.

Billy has relived many events in his life multiple times, one of which is his death. Billy’s death is the consequence of a string of events. Before the Germans capture Billy, he meets Roland Weary. Weary doesn’t particularly care for Billy and when he is on his death bed he convinces another soldier that Billy is his cause of death and that his death must be avenged. Billy already knows where, when, and how he will be killed and because he is “unstuck in time” he is forced to relive it over and over again.

I really loved this book because it touches on a couple topics that I frequently think about. That is, fate, free will and the nature of human beings.

It’s hard to say wether free will truly exists on earth. We are all influenced by our surroundings, by society and our peers that it can difficult to differentiate between wether they are indirectly making our decisions for us or if we as individuals truly make our own choices. There is one part of the book that really stuck out to me on the issue of free will.

. . . . . . .

This is a moment in time when Billy Pilgrim is in Tralfamadore and he is talking to one of aliens there.

“I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see 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. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as i’ve said before, bugs trapped in amber.”

“You sound to me as if you don’t believe in free will,” said Billy Pilgrim.

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe… Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

. . . . . . .

It’s really a fascinating concept. To think that human nature is truly insignificant and we all do what we do, because we must.

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go.”

. . . . . . . .

To the Tralfamadorians, everything simultaneously exists, meaning, everyone is always alive. Can you imagine? Immortality, in a sense.

“Welcome aboard, Mr. Pilgrim,” said the loud speaker. “Any questions?”

Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last, “Why me?”

“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?”

“Yes.” Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three lady bugs embedded in it.

“Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

. . . . . . . .

If we all stopped asking “Why?” Then maybe we would be more at peace with our lives. Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t he like me? Why Why Why. You will never know. We must all accept this simple answer: “because that is the way it is.”

The Tralfamadorians believe that life, as a human being, is only enjoyable with unknowns. A concept that many of us “Earthlings” fail to grasp. I for one, do not like the un known. But my life would be much less anxiety ridden if I would live my life the way The Tralfamadorians did.

Everything happens because it must. Everybody does exactly what they are meant to do.

So it goes.

I am a firm believer in fate and destiny and I think the synchronicity of life is one of the most beautiful things ever. Every single moment in your life matters. Everything you do, or do not do, matters. Every moment in the past and future is implicit in this exact moment. And that, is truly, beautiful. Everything is connected. We are all intwined. So it goes.

Why ask questions that have no answer? It will drive you to the brink of insanity. Trust me, I know. You can’t change the past, nor can you predict the future. All you can do is exist. And lucky for us, we will never die, because we are all trapped in the amber of our lives.

So it goes.


Taylor Jordan



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