Passage from Slaughter House Five with Commentary
- Pages: 2
- Word count: 500
- Category: Vonnegut
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Weary was as new to war as Billy. He was a re placement, too. As a part of a gun crew, he had helped to fire one shot in anger—from a 57-millimeter antitank gun. The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty. The gun lapped up snow and vegetation with blowtorch thirty feet long. The flame left a black arrow on the ground, showing Germans exactly where the gun was hidden. The shot was a miss. What had been missed was a Tiger tank. It swiveled its 88-millimeter snout around sniffingly, saw the arrow on the ground. It fired. It killed everybody on the gun crew but Weary. So it goes. Roland Weary was only eighteen, was at the end of an unhappy childhood spent mostly in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He had been unpopular in Pittsburgh. He had been unpopular because he was stupid and fat and mean, and smelled like bacon no matter how much he washed.
He was always being ditched in Pittsburgh by the people who did not want him with them. It made Weary sick to be ditched. When Weary was ditched, he would find somebody who was even more unpopular than himself, and he would horse around with that person for a while, pretending to be friendly. And then he would find some pretext for beating the shit out of him. It was a pattern. It was a crazy, sexy, murderous relationship Weary entered into with people he eventually beat up. He told them about his father’s collection of guns and swords and torture instruments and leg irons and so on. Weary’s father, who was a plumber, actually did collect such things, and his col lection was insured for four thousand dollars. He wasn’t alone. He belonged to a big clud composed of people who collect things like that. Weary’s father once gave Weary’s mother a Spanish thumbscrew in working condition—for a kitchen paper- weight.
Another time he gave her a table lamp whose base was a model one foot high of the famous “Iron Maiden of Nuremberg.” The real Iron Maiden was a medieval torture instrument, a sort of boiler which was shaped like a woman on the outside—and lined with spikes. The front of the woman was composed of two hinged doors. The idea was to put a criminal inside and then close the doors slowly. There was a grain in the bottom to let out all the blood. So it goes. Guiding Questions What is the significance of the reoccurring motif “So it goes.” How does Vonnegut use imagery to describe the demise of Weary’s gun crew? Vonnegut spends so much time in building Weary’s character because he becomes an important character in the novel. He eventually becomes the reason as to why Billy Pilgrim dies. The motif “So it goes” is written at the end of each death in order to create a nonchalant view of each death.