[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Slaughterhouse-Five_7434.jpg]]

->It begins like this: ''"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come UnstuckInTime."'' It ends like this: ''"Poo-tee-weet?"''

->Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

''Slaughterhouse-Five'' is Creator/KurtVonnegut's 1969 masterpiece about Billy Pilgrim, a soldier who witnessed the bombing of Dresden and subsequently gets kidnapped by Tralfamadorian aliens, who can see in all four dimensions and thus see all events in their lives in no particular order. Billy becomes UnstuckInTime, marries a nice girl, experiences death for a while, befriends Kilgore Trout (Vonnegut's recurring AuthorAvatar in TheVerse), and lives his life like most other humans -- just less chronologically. Tralfamadorians don't believe you can change anything, but that doesn't mean you can't choose to focus on a particular time, and to enjoy life the way it happens. Billy learns to accept life as well as death -- if something dies, then [[ArcWords so it goes.]]

Why aliens, and why time travel? Because Vonnegut wanted to write about his experiences in WorldWarII, but he didn't want to write a story about BigDamnHeroes. Instead, his character is simply a meek observer: Billy gets to see the war and the world from a distance, objectively, as if through the eyes of aliens.

It caused a bit of controversy when it came out, as people were unwilling to believe that "The Greatest Generation" during "The Good War" could do evil. But his story about the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Dresden_in_World_War_II Bombing of Dresden in World War II]] is factual, as Vonnegut was there. Although there is a question about how many died; it is said that in the book he got the numbers wrong. Still, 135,000 civilians or 25,000 civilians, dead is dead. [[ArcWords So it goes.]]

An intensively autobiographical novel (minus the time travel and aliens bits), ''Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death'' is one of the books Vonnegut is most remembered for and contains philosophies about free will, fate, life, and death, often through the use of irony. For example, scholarly discussion usually holds that Billy and the Tralfamadorians are the examples of what is ''wrong'' and that free will, and therefore moral responsibility to try to prevent war, futile though it may seem, are the correct paths.

->It is 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?"''

Filmed in 1972 by George Roy Hill. Vonnegut liked it.
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!!Tropes in this book include:

* AliensMadeThemDoIt: The Tralfamadorians put Billy and porn star Montana Wildhack in a zoo together. They don't make them mate but they want them to. You put together a man and woman in a small area for the rest of their lives...
* AlternateAesopInterpretation: In-universe, the moral of [[Literature/TheBible the New Testament]] is hypothesized as really being "Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected."
* AnachronicOrder
* {{Anticlimax}}: In the introduction, Vonnegut says that the climax of the novel should be Edgar Derby's execution for looting a teapot. During the novel, we're reminded several times that this will happen; however, when it finally does, it's described in three sentences.
* AnyoneCanDie: And ''so many'' do. [[JustifiedTrope It is a war, after all]]. Some characters' deaths (i.e., Billy, Derby) [[ForegoneConclusion are explicitly mentioned by the narrator long before they ever occur]], some are a little more unexpected (i.e., [[spoiler: Roland Weary]]).
* ApocalypseHow: A Class 5 on a universal scale. PlayedForLaughs, mostly.
* ArcWords: "So it goes." It appears no less than 106 times in the novel (and it's a quite short novel as well).
* AuthorAvatar: As mentioned above, Kilgore Trout is a recurring author avatar in many of Vonnegut's novels; however, because of the intense personal nature of the story--Vonnegut himself actually witnessed or took part in many of the book's events--the author himself is present as a character as well. (Trout is also partly based on Creator/TheodoreSturgeon (he of SturgeonsLaw), a RealLife science fiction author who was a friend and mentor of Vonnegut's.)
* {{Bishounen}}: One of the German soldiers who first capture Roland and Billy, to the point where he's described as looking like Eve from the Bible.
* BizarreAlienSexes: The Tralfamadorians look like toilet plungers and have five sexes.
** More than that, the Tralfamadorians reveal to Billy that ''humans'' have ''seven'' sexes, it's just that we can only perceive two because the others exist in the fourth dimension.
* BlessedWithSuck: Billy can see his entire life at once but is unable to do anything about it.
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: "So it goes."
* BreakingTheFourthWall: The narrator ''is'' Kurt Vonnegut. At one point, when describing the bombing of Dresden, he shows a man standing in the same room as Billy Pilgrim and then writes, "That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book."
** Not to mention the fact that the first chapter in the book was entirely about him describing some of his life and how he came to write his "famous Dresden novel".
* BrickJoke: In the first chapter, the narrator mentions drunkenly calling up old friends with his breath stinking of mustard gas and roses. In the fourth chapter, Billy gets an anonymous call and assumes the caller is a drunk whose breath smells like mustard gas and roses.
** Then, on the last page of the book, the smell of rotting bodies is likened to... [[RuleOfThree guess what]]?
* TheCameo: Howard W. Campbell, the protagonist of Vonnegut's earlier work ''Literature/MotherNight'' makes an appearance, working for the Nazi propaganda effort. Eliot Rosewater, protagonist of another earlier book, ''God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater'' also appears as Billy's roommate in the veteran's hospital.
* ChildSoldiers: Mrs. O'Hare more or less considers young enlisted men to be this. We get to see more literal examples from the Germans who have a 12 year old scout and a 16 year old prison guard. The Children's Crusade is also discussed at one point.
* ClassicalAntiHero: Billy Pilgrim has many traits of this.
* DefiantToTheEnd: [[spoiler: The hobo. "You call this bad? This ain't bad."]]
** Either that or TemptingFate.
** Also applies to Wild Bob.
* DeweyDefeatsTruman: We get a glimpse of the "future" in which the US is divided into various sectors among other things. The year? 1976.
* DiamondsInTheBuff: Montana's necklace; since she's naked, you can't look at it without also looking at her boobs.
* DisproportionateRetribution:
** Edgar Derby is shot by a firing squad for stealing a ''teapot'' from the ruins of Dresden. This after he wasn't even disciplined as far as we know for telling American traitor Howard J. Campbell to go fuck himself.
** Paul Lazzaro makes a list of people he plans to have assassinated at some point in the future for even minor offenses. He mentions feeding a wire-filled steak to a dog that once bit him for the sake of revenge.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: In the future, before Billy dies, he's making a speech in the balkanized United States.
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: Averted. The aversion is also {{lampshade}}d in the first chapter.
* {{Eagleland}}: Type 2, especially in the writings of Howard W. Campbell, Jr. but to a lesser extent throughout the book.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Paul Lazzaro, the psychotic and murderous car thief from Illinois, is dismissive of the firebombing of Dresden.
--> He was proud of never having hurt an innocent bystander. "Nobody ever got it from Lazzaro," he said, "who didn't have it coming."
** Of course, how much they had it coming is from the point of Lazzaro, who has...skewed priorities.
* ExtremeDoormat: Billy spends the whole war being pushed and ordered around by others. After coming back, he becomes an optometrist and marries a woman whom he doesn't love, because that's what people around him expect of him. He only starts taking initiative after his abduction experience.
* FantasticRomance
* ForegoneConclusion: Billy knows he's going to die - in fact, he's died over and over again, but merely goes back to a time when he ''wasn't'' dead.
** The Tralfamadorians take this attitude on a ''universal'' scale as they all know a rocket test of theirs will destroy the entire universe and don't much care. They don't care because they see no point in caring. To their senses: It will happen. It is happening. It will always happen. It can not be stopped because it has always happened.
** Edgar Derby's death is brought up before he is even named or is introduced into the story.
* HistoryMarchesOn: It's stated several times that 135,000 people were killed in the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut took this figure from David Irving's book, ''The Destruction of Dresden'', which even appears in the novel. Back in the '60s, Irving was considered a respectable historian, and his figures were widely accepted. Since then, he came out as a Holocaust denier and fell into disgrace. It also turned out that he inflated the figures, and the actual casualties were no higher than 25,000.
* HumansAreSpecial: How much this specialness matters is arguable, but according to one Tralfamadorian, "I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe.... Only on Earth is there any talk of free will." Because of this, they're seen as [[HumansAreMorons idiots]] by the Tralfamadorians.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: Averted. Billy suggests the Tralfamadorians and other aliens feel this way about humans since they have war. It is quickly explained that humans aren't alone in their ability to make war and that most aliens have no opinion one way or another about them.
* ItsNotPornItsArt: André Le Fèvre, the maker of the first dirty photograph in the world, which depicted the woman having sex with a pony tried to argue before court that "the picture was fine art, and that his intention was to make Greek mythology come alive". (Indeed, there are several stories in ClassicalMythology where gods have sex with mortals taking the form of animals).
* LongLostRelative: Although they were not aware of it, Billy and a German prison guard were distant cousins.
* LongTitle: ''Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death''.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: A popular theory about the novel is that the Tralfamadorians only exist [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness in Billy's head]], brought on post-traumatic stress disorder.
* MeaningfulEcho: ''Several''.
* MeaningfulName: Tralfama - ''[[Literature/ThePictureOfDorianGray dorian]]''. Like Dorian Gray, the Tralfamadorians are able to move through time, unaffected by it. Also, Billy Pilgrim himself. ('Billy' due to his childlike innocence - explicitly stated in the second chapter, and 'pilgrim' due to the religious aspects of his journey.)
* MentalTimeTravel
* NonLinearCharacter: The Tralfamadorians.
* NotAfraidToDie: Because he experiences time in a non-linear way, Billy is not the least bit afraid of his death - he knows that after a while, he'll go back to a time when he wasn't dead.
* TheNothingAfterDeath: Billy experiences death as nothing but violet light and a hum.
* OhAndXDies: The narrator wastes no opportunity to remind us that Edgar Derby is going to be executed for stealing a teapot. (When that finally happens, it's told in a by-the-way sentence that doesn't even rate a paragraph of its own.)
** The movie makes a somewhat bigger deal about it.
** The first chapter, in which Vonnegut discusses his writing of the book, has Vonnegut toying with the idea of making Edgar Derby's death the climax of the novel -- a sort of appropriately retroactive LampshadeHanging.
* PeopleZoo: Billy and Montana are residents.
* PrecisionFStrike: Subverted when one soldier shouts for Billy to "Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker!"
-->The last word was still a novelty in the speech of white people in 1944. It was fresh and astonishing to Billy, [[AManIsNotAVirgin who had never fucked anybody]].
* PrescienceIsPredictable: Averted. Even though the Tralfamadorians and Billy see the future and are powerless to change it, they accept it gracefully.
-->Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw the prayer on Billy's wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference." Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.
* QuintessentialBritishGentleman: The British prisoners are so friendly, even the German guards like them.
* RedShirt: Any side character mentioned in the WW2 segments will probably be dead soon. Like, in a few pages. Doesn't mean that it's any less sad, or that it can't be jarring (honestly, who expected [[spoiler: Roland Weary]] to go out like that?).
* TheRuleOfFirstAdopters: The narration states that Louis Daguerre made the first photograph in 1839, and only two years later, his assistant, André Le Fèvre made the first dirty photograph depicting a woman "attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland pony".
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Considering that Billy can see how everything ends, it's easy for him to take this view.
* ShoutOut: There are numerous shout-outs to children's stories:
** [[Literature/AliceInWonderland "Drink Me"]].
** The narrator compares Dresden, Germany to [[Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz Oz]] when the American prisoners are first brought to the city.
** The English prisoners put on a production of "Literature/{{Cinderella}}" and at one point, Billy puts on the combat boots that substituted for Cinderella's glass slippers.
** Roland Weary refers to himself and the two scouts traveling with him as Literature/TheThreeMusketeers.
* StarfishAliens: The average Tralfamadorian looks like a green toilet plunger with a human hand stuck to the handle, with a single eyeball at the center of its palm.
* StiffUpperLip: The English officers are pretty optimistic for being [=POW's=].
* TimeDissonance
* TitleDrop: For both titles.
* UnreliableNarrator: It is mentioned in one single line near the start of the second chapter that the story is built on what Billy Pilgrim ''says'' happened to him. After that point every event is presented in a very matter-of-fact way, but the implication is that the entire book is really based on Billy's perspective, rather than that of an omniscient narrator. Billy's unreliability is never made explicit, but is hinted at -- he's suffered [=PTSD=], a severe head injury, and some other characters certainly ''think'' he's unreliable...
* UnstuckInTime: The TropeNamer.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: There are a couple parts of the book that were based on Vonnegut's own experiences, such as the descriptions of Dresden post-bombing and Edgar Derby being executed for looting a teapot.
* WorldWarII
* YouCantFightFate: One of the Tralfamadorians says, "I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe.... Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."
** {{Deconstructed}} as it's being used ironically as this mentality is held up as an example of the wrong way to cope with war trauma.
** The narrator also says that the climax will be when Edgar Derby is shot for stealing a teapot, and that is probably the textbook example of a [[{{Bathos}} deliberate anticlimax]].
** On a more meta example, the prologue explains [[ForegoneConclusion exactly how the book will end]].
* WarIsHell: Mrs. O'Here certainly feels this way and this is proven in a surprisingly non-{{Anvilicious}} way.
* WritersSuck: Kilgore Trout is a complete failure as a writer. His only fan, Eliot Rosewater (who introduces Billy to his work) says that Trout deserves his obscurity, because while his ideas are great, his execution is terrible.

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->Poo-tee-weet?