Slaughterhouse-Five: Novel Summary: Chapter 6
Billy awakens on the morning after his night in the POW hospital. Paul Lazzaro and Edgar Derby are asleep on other cots in the small room. Billy feels an animal magnetism coming from behind him and he locates its source as two small lumps stitched into the fur lining of his coat. One of the lumps feels like a pea and the other like a small horseshoe. Billy understands that the lumps will work wonders for him if he does not try to discover what they are. He falls back asleep. He awakens later in the day to the sounds of the Englishmen digging themselves a new latrine. Several of the workers pass through the hospital bearing mattresses for the Americans all of whom are camped out in the tent used as a theater the night before. One of the Englishmen is the man who broke Lazzaro's arm and when he inquires how the American is doing Lazzaro tells him that he is going to have him killed after the war. The Englishmen is very amused. After the Englishmen leaves Lazzaro assures Derby and Billy that revenge is the best thing in the world. He says that he once fed a steak filled with tiny bits of metal to a dog that had bitten him and he enjoyed watching the animal suffer while it died. He was proud that he never hurt anyone that didn't deserve it. He claims that he can have anyone in the world shot for a thousand dollars and that he kept a list in his head of those whom have it coming. He says that the only friend he had in the war was named Roland Weary, that Weary died in his arms on account of Billy and that he will have Billy killed after the war. He tells Billy that it is inevitable and to enjoy life while he can.
As a time traveler Billy knows that Lazzaro isn't lying and he has described his own death into a tape recorder and left the tape in his safe deposit box. He says that "he will die, have died and always will die on February thirteenth, 1976." At the time of his death the United States has divided up into twenty small nations and that Chicago has been hydrogen-bombed by the Chinese. He is speaking to a large crowd in a baseball park, extolling the virtues of the lessons he has learned from the aliens. He tells the crowd that he will be dead in an hour because a man who once promised to kill him will do so that day. He tells the crowd there is nothing to regret in his death and he closes his speech as always by saying "Farewell, hello, farewell, hello." A moment later Lazzaro shoots him dead with a high-powered laser gun.
Death is simply a violet light and a humming noise and then Billy returns in time to the POW hospital. He and Derby and Lazzaro are to join the others in the theater tent where they are supposed to elect themselves a leader. As they walk to the tent Derby mentally composes a letter to his wife and Lazzaro talks to himself about all the people he will have killed after the war. They pass an Englishmen marking a line in the dirt with his boot to separate the Americans and British. All the Americans are sleeping in the cold hall so Billy, Lazzaro and Derby make a nest on the stage from the curtains used in the play. Billy sees the silver boots worn by Cinderella and tries them on his own feet. They fit perfectly. An Englishmen delivers a lecture on the importance of hygiene and self-respect. He says that he has seen many men die simply by letting their bodies deteriorate. He tells the Americans that they are being sent to Dresden where there is an active city life and where they will be safe from bombs since Dresden contains no military industries. Edgar Derby is elected the leader of the group by a couple of listless prisoners and he makes a speech thanking their English hosts. The day turns surprisingly warm and the Germans bring soup for lunch. Everyone begins to feel better as they march, with Billy in the lead, to the train that will take them to Dresden. It is a pleasurable and short ride.
The Americans arrive in Dresden at five in the afternoon. When the boxcar doors open the Americans behold the loveliest city that most had ever seen. Vonnegut interjects that at this moment he said "Oz" and that the only other city he had ever seen was Indianapolis, Indiana. The city had not been bombed during the war, all the utilities worked and life was very much like normal. The principle industries were medicine, food processing and cigarettes. At the moment the Americans arrive the streets are full of tired people going home from work. The newly drafted guards are young boys and old men and two wounded veterans, one uses a cane to walk. They are afraid to meet their charges until they see Billy in his ridiculous costume and realize that the Americans are only fools like themselves. Billy leads the parade from the train yard the citizens of Dresden are delighted by the novel event on an otherwise boring day. As they walk Billy feels the lumps in the lining of his coat, which he uses as a muff. The parade stops at a streetlight that turns red. A German surgeon, a respectable man and veteran of two wars, thinks Billy has dressed up on purpose and accuses him of dishonorable behavior. Billy is anxious to please the man and shows him what is in the lining of his coat. It is a two-carat diamond and a partial denture. The Americans march to a building formerly used as a holding pen for pigs about to be slaughtered. The building has been fixed up to house them. A guard teaches them their address in case they get lost. It is Schlachthof, which means slaughterhouse, and Funf, which means five.
Paul Lazzaro emerges as the character whose world-view is most diametrically opposed to Billy's Tralfamadorian outlook. Lazzaro fascination with revenge and the cause-and-effect order of his life (i.e. someone does him wrong that person will be killed) make him the perfect foil for Billy's come-what-will outlook. As such, it is thematically appropriate that an aged, insane Lazzaro be the agent of Billy's death and even more appropriate that Billy accepts this fact without protest.
Like the British officer who assumed that Billy's ridiculous costume was meant intentionally as a joke by the German guards, the German veteran who stops Billy in the street and accuses him of wearing the outfit intentionally as a reprehensible joke. Neither the British officer nor the German veteran understand that Billy, as well as themselves, are simply the victims of circumstances and each are doing the best with the materials at hand.
Edgar Derby, as intimated in the first chapter, emerges as the most noble and tragic of the characters in the novel. He seems genuinely concerned for the welfare of his group and believes that his seniority makes him more responsible for what happens to them. Hs story is tragic because, as Vonnegut interjects on numerous occasions, all his goodwill will go for naught and he will be shot for a pointless crime.
The arrival in Dresden, the description of the feeble guards and the fool's parade combine to create an impression of a place that exists apart from the horrors of war but one in which all the inhabitants are deeply affected by it.