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Slaughterhouse-Five | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 1922

    Billy Pilgrim is born in Ilium, New York.

    Chapter 2
  • 1920s

    Billy's father attempts to teach young Billy to swim by throwing him into a YMCA pool.

    Chapter 2
  • 1934

    Billy's family travels to the Grand Canyon, and he is terrified as he stands on the edge.

    Chapter 5
  • 1944

    Billy joins the army, is sent to Germany as a chaplain's assistant, and is captured.

    Chapter 2
  • 1945

    In a POW camp Billy witnesses the bombing of Dresden and the execution of a fellow soldier.

    Chapter 8
  • 1948

    Billy is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for veterans and learns of the novels of Kilgore Trout.

    Chapter 5
  • 1948

    Billy graduates from optometry school and marries the school owner's daughter, Valencia.

    Chapter 5
  • 1967

    Billy is abducted by aliens from Tralfamadore and put on display in a zoo there.

    Chapter 4
  • 1968

    Billy survives a plane crash in Vermont.

    Chapter 7
  • Later in 1968

    Valencia dies in her hurry to visit Billy in the hospital.

    Chapter 9
  • 1968–69

    Billy worries his daughter with his attempts to tell the world about Tralfamadore.

    Chapter 2
  • 1976

    Billy is killed (or imagines he is) by a sniper in Chicago after giving a speech about Tralfamadore.

    Chapter 6

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Title Page and Epigraph On the title page under his name, Kurt Vonnegut adds a few sentences to make the following points: He is of German... Read More
Chapter 1 The narrator explains the basis for his novel in his experiences as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II, wh... Read More
Chapter 2 Billy Pilgrim's story begins with his birth in Ilium, New York, in 1922. Billy is an above-average student who attends o... Read More
Chapter 3 Billy Pilgrim and Roland Weary are captured by five soldiers and a dog. Two of the soldiers are teenage boys, two are to... Read More
Chapter 4 On the night of his daughter's wedding Billy Pilgrim is unable to sleep. He knows the spaceship from Tralfamadore is com... Read More
Chapter 5 Billy Pilgrim asks for something to read on the journey to Tralfamadore, and the only book the Tralfamadorians have in E... Read More
Chapter 6 When Billy Pilgrim awakens in the camp hospital, he senses magnetism coming from his coat hanging on the wall above him.... Read More
Chapter 7 Billy Pilgrim boards a chartered plane in Ilium with several other optometrists, including his father-in-law and a barbe... Read More
Chapter 8 Howard W. Campbell, the American Nazi, visits the prisoners a few days before the bombing. He attempts to convince the p... Read More
Chapter 9 Valencia Pilgrim dies because of a car accident she has on her way to see Billy after his plane crash. She misses a turn... Read More
Chapter 10 The narrator comments on the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the body counts from... Read More
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