Slaughterhouse-Five Part Seven

Posted in Book Reports, GSU photo archive, War by chamblee54 on August 11, 2015








This is part seven of the chamblee54 circumnavigational retrospective of Kurt Vonnegut’s anti glacier classic, Slaughterhouse-Five. Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six have already seen the light of day. This installment will cover chapters nine and ten, and will probably be the end. Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. The man in the last three pictures was Frank Gordy, the owner of The Varsity.

At the start of chapter nine, Billy Pilgrim has been in a plane crash. His wife, Valencia, is trying to get to the hospital. While en route, there is an accident. The Cadillac Valencia is driving is rear ended by a Mercedes. The trunk of the Caddy looked like ” the mouth of a village idiot who was explaining that he didn’t know anything about anything”.

The Caddy had bumper stickers, given to BP by someone in the John Birch Society. One said “Reagan for President.” In 1968, Ronnie had been Governor of California for less than two years. The idea of the former actor as POTUS was a conservative fantasy. Did KV have the imagination to see the future? In 12 years, Ronald Reagan would run for POTUS, against the former Governor of Georgia. Ronnie would win, and be re-elected in 1984. In 2015, Nancy’s husband would be revered as Saint Ronnie by the Republican party. The future is a strange place, if you haven’t time traveled through it.

Back in 1968, Valencia Pilgrim was in a hurry to get to the hospital. She continued to drive the Cadillac, even though the exhaust system was wasted. Valencia made it to the hospital, and collapsed in the parking lot. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is the first time KV says “So it goes” in chapter nine. SIG081. It is not the last.

BP is, physically, in a hospital bed while all this is going on. His roommate is a dreadful fellow named Bertram Copeland Rumfoord. Dr. Rumfoord is a history professor, who is fascinated by war. Any actual combat service is not mentioned. Dr. Rumfoord does not suffer from false modesty. Nor is he impressed by BP … “I could carve a better man out of a banana.”

Dr. Rumfoord is researching a history of World War II. He has his wife read papers to him, while BP passively listens behind a white screen. The foreword to a book about the Dresden raid is read. The author laments the lives lost that night, but reminds us that two wrongs make a right, and that Germany killed a lot of the good guys. SIG082.

Another author compared the deaths in Dresden to Hiroshima and Toyko. SIG083. Comparing casualty statistics of the combatants in a war can give you a headache. The USA lost 415,000, mostly soldiers, which is nothing to be happy about. However, the Amerikan losses were a rounding error when considering the 25,000,000 men, women, and children believed lost by the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, Barbara, the daughter of BP, is visiting her father in the hospital. She is not in good shape, which can be expected under the circumstances. Some doctor gave her medication, and she has a glassy eyed look. SIG084. Soon Robert Pilgrim, without the nacreous pink guitar, is back from Vietnam. This scene was in the movie. Robert Pilgrim says he is sorry about what happened in the graveyard. That incident was mentioned in the book one time.

Dr. Rumfoord is going to include Dresden in his book. The raid was little known in Amerika. According to Dr. Rumfoord, the military did not want to upset the bleeding hearts. At this point, BP speaks up. “I was there.” Dr. Rumfoord does not believe BP, and feels euthanasia is appropriate.

At some point in the proceedings BP is back in Dresden, on the morning after. He finds a horse cart, and then goes for a ride. Soon, an elderly German couple sees BP. The elderly Germans talk to BP in tones that might have been spoken to Jesus, as he was taken down from the cross. SIG085. The elderly Germans made BP aware of the wretched condition of the horses. When BP sees this, he cries for the only time during the war.

In a few days, BP is on his way back to Amerika. He is on board a freighter, Lucretia A. Mott. Miss Mott was a famous suffragette, who was dead. SIG086. Before long, BP is home from the hospital. We don’t know what vehicle took him there. BP sneaks out of the house, and goes to New York City. BP wants to find a tv show, that will have him as a guest. BP wants to share what he learned on Tralfamadore. When he starts to look at New York television, all the shows were about silliness and murder. SIG087. BP was used to having only 3 channels, and was perplexed by the abundance of choice in New York. He might have missed the good stuff.

BP goes out for a walk. There is a sign, with the news displayed in a streaming marquee. SIG088. There is a dirty book store, with Kilgore Trout novels in the window. This is another theme of KV…Kilgore Trout novels in front of dirty bookstores, to lend redeeming social value to the smut.

One of these novels is about a planet called Zircon-212. This was a few years before Frank Zappa recorded the dental floss anthem “Montana,” with the invitation to purchase zircon encrusted tweezers. This is possibly connected to a house PG once stayed in. The house was on Zircon Place, in a neighborhood was called Diamond Heights.

Another novel by Mr. Trout returned to the Jesus theme. It involves a 12 year old boy, who is being taught carpentry by his dad. Roman soldiers come in. They want a cross built, for an emergency crucifixion the next day. The carpenter is happy to get the work. SIG089. Another Jesus book involves a time traveler named Lance Corwin. He takes a stethoscope back to Cavalry, to see if Jesus was really dead on that not so good Friday. The heart was still, and Jesus was certifiably deceased. SIG090. One fact in this story corresponds to the information on the Shroud of Turin. Jesus was 5″3″ tall. The Shroud also suggests that Jesus did not have a navel.

Soon, the porn clerks wonder why BP is reading the redeeming social value books. They steer him to a magazine, with the lurid cover “Whatever happened to Montana Wildhack?” BP knows, but also knows enough to keep this knowledge to himself. The magazine says Montana Wildhack was killed by Lenny Bruce. He caught her stepping out one too many times. SIG091.

BP soon tires of the dirty bookstore. He finds a radio show that will have him as a guest. The question of the evening is whether, or not, the novel is dead. SIG092. BP tries to say that the novel was never alive on Tralfamadore, and is ushered off the show. To confirm this, BP time travels back to Tralfamadore. Montana Wildhack who is nursing their baby, is tired of BP.

That is the end of chapter nine. In the first part of chapter ten, KV mentions Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, KV Sr., and Charles Darwin. SIG093. SIG094. SIG095. SIG096. SIG097. Another Kilgore Trout story comes up. The aliens ask the earth people about golf.

The story ends where it started, with KV going to German with war buddy Bernard O’Hare. Mr. O’Hare was not mentioned in the rest of the book. There is a passage from a book, that KV shows to the reader. So many babies are born every day. SIG098. So many people die every day. SIG099. The population of the world will be 7 billion in 2000. This speculation was before the internet. The current story estimates the number of earthlings at 7,359,240,848.

The story is almost over. BP makes one final trip to Dresden. It is after the raid, and BP is working with a Maori POW, helping to clean up. They find a hole, with a lot of dead Germans. The dead Germans stink. The Maori POW dies of the dry heaves. Edgar Derby steals something from the ruins, and is shot by a German. SIG100. SIG101. SIG102. SIG103. There are supposed to be 106 SIG in this text, which means that PG missed 3. Any reader worried about this can get over it.









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