Slaughterhouse-Five: Top Ten Quotes

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Total Votes: 129
  1. Vonnegut apology to his publisher Seymour "Sam" Lawrence:
    "And I say to Sam now: 'Sam-here's the book.' It's so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like 'Poo-tee-weet?" (19)
  2. Regarding Billy Pilgrim's travels through time:
    "Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren't necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next." (23)
  3. From Billy Pilgrim's letter to the local paper in which he describes the Tralfamadorians:
    "When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that 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'." (27)
  4. Regarding the boxcars used to ship the American prisoners into Germany:
    "Even though Billy's train wasn't moving, its boxcars were kept locked tight. Nobody was to get off until the final destination. To the guards who walked up and down outside, each car became a single organism which ate and drank and excreted through its ventilators. It talked or sometimes yelled through its ventilators, too. In went water and loaves of black-bread and sausage and cheese, and out came shit and piss and language." (70)
  5. The world according to Eliot Rosewater:
    "Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn't science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fedor Dostoevsky. 'But that isn't enough any more,' said Rosewater." "Another time Billy heard Rosewater say to a psychiatrist, 'I think you guys are going to have to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just aren't going to want to go on living'." (101)
  6. The Tralfamadorians assert that there are no less than seven sexes on planet earth, all but two invisible to humans, and they try to explain to Billy why some are necessary for human reproduction:
    "The Tralfamadorians tried to give Billy clues that would help him imagine sex in the invisible dimension. They told him that there could be no Earthling babies without male homosexuals. There could be babies without female homosexuals. There couldn't be babies without women over sixty-five years old. There could be babies without men over sixty-five. There couldn't be babies without other babies who had lived an hour or less after birth. And so on. It was gibberish to Billy." (114)
  7. zThe statement that occurs to Billy as a good epitaph for himself:
    "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt." (122)
  8. The reaction of the thirty teenage refugee girls when Billy, Werner and Edgar accidentally open the door to their shower:
    "There those girls were with all their private parts bare, for anybody to see. And there in the doorway were Gluck and Derby and Pilgrim-the childish soldier and the poor old high school teacher and the clown in his toga and silver shoes-staring. The girls screamed. They covered themselves with their hands and turned their backs and so on, and made themselves utterly beautiful." (159)
  9. Regarding Rumfoord's belief that Billy has echolalia:
    "Echolalia is a mental disease which makes people immediately repeat things that well people around them say. But Billy didn't really have it. Rumfoord simply insisted, for his own comfort, that Billy had it. Rumsfoord was thinking in a military manner: that an inconvenient person, on whose death he wished for very much, for practical reasons, was suffering from a repulsive disease." (192)
  10. The scene following the end of the war for Billy and the other prisoners:
    "Billy and the rest wandered out onto the shady street. The trees were leafing out. There was nothing going on out there, no traffic of any kind. There was only one vehicle, an abandoned wagon drawn by two horses. The wagon was green and coffin shaped. Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim. 'Poo-tee-weet'?" (215)

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