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Slaughterhouse 5 Quotes About the Sci-Fi Anti-War Novel

These Slaughterhouse 5 quotes will show you why the novel has been called an example of “unmatched moral clarity.”

Slaughterhouse 5 also known by its alternate title, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, is a science-fiction-infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut.

The book was first published in 1969 and chronicles the life of Billy Pilgrim.

The book starts with his early years and covers his time as an American soldier and chaplain’s assistant during World War II.

It continues on to the post-war years, with Billy occasionally traveling through time.

The time travel and sci-fi aspect of the novel is evident in Slaughterhouse 5 quotes which reference the Tralfamadorian and “Earthlings.”

The majority of the book is centered around Billy’s capture by the German Army.

It also details his survival of the Allied firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war.

The inspiration for this part of the novel was based on Vonnegut’s experience as an American serviceman.

The novel has been called an example of “unmatched moral clarity.”

It is also regarded as “one of the most enduring antiwar novels of all time”.

There are many Slaughterhouse 5 quotes about war and death on the list for this reason.

Don’t forget to also check out these Kurt Vonnegut quotes from his work and life.

Slaughterhouse 5 quotes about war and death

1. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters. ― Kurt Vonnegut

2. There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. ― Kurt Vonnegut

3. The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought. ― Kurt Vonnegut

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4. All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. ― Kurt Vonnegut

5. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?” ― Kurt Vonnegut

6. Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. So it goes. ― Kurt Vonnegut

7. The umpire had comical news. The congregation had been theoretically spotted from the air by a theoretical enemy. They were all theoretically dead now. The theoretical corpses laughed and ate a hearty noontime meal. ― Kurt Vonnegut

8. The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of a zipper on the fly of God Almighty. ― Kurt Vonnegut

9. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is “So it goes.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

10. The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought. ― Kurt Vonnegut

11. When a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. ― Kurt Vonnegut

12. I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee. I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that. ― Kurt Vonnegut

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13. What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too. ― Kurt Vonnegut

14. And even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death. ― Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse 5 quotes about love, relationships, and looking back

15. She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies. ― Kurt Vonnegut

16. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves. ― Kurt Vonnegut

17. It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in the name of love. ― Kurt Vonnegut

18. And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes. ― Kurt Vonnegut

19. It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever. ― Kurt Vonnegut

20. People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore. ― Kurt Vonnegut

21. All these years, I’ve been opening the window and making love to the world. ― Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse 5 quotes about America, Americans, and Earthlings

22. Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops. ― Kurt Vonnegut

23. America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves… It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. ― Kurt Vonnegut

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24. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. ― Kurt Vonnegut

25. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All-time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. ― Kurt Vonnegut

What did you learn from these Slaughterhouse 5 quotes?

Billy Pilgrim begins traveling through time after he is abducted by a flying saucer and taken to a planet far from Earth, called Tralfamadore.

Vonnegut describes the Tralfamadorians as being able to see in four dimensions, which means they simultaneously observe all points in the space-time continuum.

The catchphrase of the novel “so it goes” comes from the Tralfamadorians.

They have a fatalistic worldview in which death means nothing to them.

Their response when hearing about death is to say “so it goes.”

That line makes an appearance at the end of several of these Slaughterhouse 5 quotes as it pops up in the book often!

Billy’s story comes full circle in the book in a strange way.

I won’t spoil it in case this sounds like something you want to read!

However, if you are already a fan, you can share some of your favorite Slaughterhouse 5 quotes and sayings with us in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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