Рефераты. American Literature books summary

it. By firing the anti-tank gun incorrectly, his gun crew put scorch marks

into the ground. Because of those marks, the position of the gun crew was

revealed to a Tiger tank that fired back. Everyone but Weary was killed. He

is stupid, fat, cruel, and violent. Back in Pittsburgh he was friendless,

and constantly getting ditched. His father collects torture devices. He

carries a cruel trench knife, various pieces of equipment that have been

issued to him, and a pornographic photo of a woman with a horse. He plagues

Billy with macho, aggressive conversation. In his own mind, Weary narrates

the war stories he will one day tell. Although he is almost as clumsy and

slow as Billy, he imagines himself and the two scouts as fast friends. In

his head he dubs them and himself the Three Musketeers, and tells himself

the story of how the Three Musketeers saved the life of a dumb, incompetent

college kid.

Straggling behind the others, Billy becomes unstuck in time. He goes back

to the red light of pre-birth and then forward again to a day in his

childhood with his father at the YMCA. His father tries to teach him how to

swim by the sink-or-swim method. Billy sinks, and someone has to rescue

him. He jumps forward to 1965, when he is a middle-aged man visiting his

mother in a nursing home. Then he jumps to 1958, and Billy is attending his

son's Little League banquet. Leap to 1961: Billy is at a party, totally

drunk and cheating on his wife for the first and only time. Then, he is

back in 1944, being shaken awake by Weary. Weary and Billy catch up to the

scouts. Dogs are barking in the distance, and the Germans are searching for

them. Billy is in bad shape: he looks like hell, can barely walk, and is

having vivid (but pleasant) hallucinations. Weary tries to be chummy with

his supposed buddies, the scouts, grouping himself with them as "the Three

Musketeers." The scouts coldly tell him that he and Billy are on their own.

Billy goes to 1957, when he gives a speech as the newly elected president

of the Lion's Club. Although he has a momentary bout of stage fright, his

speech is beautiful. He has taken a public speaking course.

He leaps back to 1944. Ditched again, Weary starts to beat Billy up,

furious that this weak college kid has cost him his membership in "the

Three Musketeers." He cruelly beats Billy, who is in such a state that he

can only laugh. Suddenly, Weary realizes that they are being watched by

five German soldiers and a police dog. They have been captured.

Chapter Three. Summary:

The troops who capture Billy and Weary are irregulars, newly enlisted men

using the equipment of newly dead soldiers. Their commander is a tough

German corporal, whose beautiful boots are a trophy from a battle long ago.

Once, while waxing the boots, he told a soldier that if you stared into

their shine you could see Adam and Eve. Though Billy has never heard the

corporal's claim, looking into the boots now he sees Adam and Eve and loves

them for their innocence, vulnerability, and beauty. A blond fifteen-year-

old boy helps Billy to his feet; he looks as beautiful and innocent as Eve.

In the distance, shots sound out as the two scouts are killed. Waiting in

ambush, they were found and shot in the backs of their heads.

The Germans take Weary's things, including the pornographic picture, which

the two old men grin about, and Weary's boots. The fifteen-year old gets

Weary's boots, and Weary gets the boy's clogs. Weary and Billy are made to

march a long distance to a cottage where American POWs are being detained.

The soldiers there say nothing. Billy falls asleep, his head on the

shoulder of a Jewish chaplain.

Billy leaps in time to 1967, although it takes him a while to figure out

the date. He is giving an eye exam in his office in Ilium. His car, visible

outside his window, has conservative stickers on the bumper; the stickers

were gifts from his father-in-law.

He leaps back to the war. A German is kicking his feet, telling him to wake

up. The Americans are assembled outside for photographs. The photographer

takes pictures of Billy's and Weary's feet as evidence of how poorly

equipped the American troops are. They stage photos of Billy being

captured. Billy then returns to 1967, driving to the Lion's club. He drives

through a black ghetto, an area recovering from recent riots and fires. He

largely ignores what he sees there. At the Lion's club, a marine major

talks about the need to continue the fight in Vietnam. He advocates bombing

North Vietnam into the Stone Age, if necessary, and Billy does not think of

the horror of bombing, which he has witnessed himself. He is simply having

lunch. The narrator mentions that he has a prayer on the wall of his

office: "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


The narrator tells us that Billy cannot change past, present, or future.

After lunch, Billy goes home. He is a wealthy man now, with a son in the

Green Berets and a daughter about to get married; he also is seized

occasionally by sudden and inexplicable bouts of weeping. During one of

these spells, he closes his eyes and finds himself back in World War II. He

is marching with an ever-growing line of Americans making their way through

Luxembourg. They cross into Germany, being filmed by the Germans who want a

record of their great victory. Weary's feet are sore and bloody from

marching on the German boy's clogs. The Americans are sorted by rank, and a

colonel tries to talk with Billy. The colonel is dying; he tries to be

chummy with Billy. He has always wanted to be called "Wild Bob" by his men.

He dreams of having a reunion of his men in his hometown of Cody, Wyoming.

He invites Billy and the other men to come. Vonnegut mentions that he and

Bernard O'Hare were there when the colonel gave his invitation. All of the

POWs are put into train cars. The train does not leave for two days; during

that time Wild Bob dies. The boxcars are so crowded that to sleep the men

have to take turns lying down. When the train finally begins its trek

deeper into Germany, Billy jumps through time again. It is 1967, and he is

about to be kidnapped for the first time by the Trafalmadorians.

Chapter Four. Summary:

In 1967, on his daughter's wedding night, Billy cannot sleep. Because he is

unstuck in time, he knows that he will soon be kidnapped by a

Trafalmadorian flying saucer. He kills time unproductively in the meantime.

He watches a war movie, and because he is unstuck in time the movie goes

forward and then backward. He goes out to meet the ship, and he is taken as

planned. As the ship shoots out into space, Billy is jarred back to 1944.

In the boxcar, none of the men want Billy to sleep next to them because he

yells and thrashes in his sleep. He is forced to sleep while standing. In

another car, Weary dies of gangrene in his feet. As he slowly dies over the

course of days, he tells people again and again about the Three Musketeers.

He also asks that someone get revenge for him on the man who caused his

death. He blames Billy Pilgrim, of course.

The train finally arrives at a camp, and Billy and the other men are pushed

and prodded along. The camp is full of dying Russian POWs. At points,

Vonnegut likens the Russians' faces to radium dials. The Americans are all

given coats; Billy's is too small. They go into a delousing station, where

all of the men strip naked. Billy has one of the worst bodies there; he is

skinny and weak, and a German soldier comments on that fact. We are

introduced briefly to Edgar Derby and Paul Lazarro. Derby is the oldest POW

there, a man who pulled strings to get into the army. He is a high school

teacher from Indianapolis, and he is physically sturdy despite his forty-

four years of age. He will be shot after the Dresden bombing for trying to

steal a teapot.

Paul Lazarro is a car thief from Illinois. His body is even weaker and

less healthy than Billy's. He was in Roland Weary's boxcar, and he vowed

solemnly to Weary that he would find and kill Billy Pilgrim. When the

scalding water turns on, Billy leaps back to his infancy. His mother has

just finished giving him a bath. He then leaps forward to a Sunday game of

golf, played with three other optometrists. Then, he leaps in time to the

space ship, on his first trip to Trafalmadore. He talks with one of his

captors about time, and he says that the Trafalmadorians sound like they do

not believe in free will. The alien replies that in all of the inhabited

planets of the galaxy, Earth is the only one whose people believe in the

concept of free will.

Chapter Five. Summary:

En route to Trafalmadore, Billy asks for something to read. The only human

novel is Valley of the Dolls, and when Billy asks for a Trafalmadorian

novel, he learns that the aliens' novels are slim, sleek volumes. Because

they have a different concept of time, Trafalmadorians have novels arranged

by juxtaposition of marvelous moments. The books have no cause or effect or

chronology; their beauty is in the arrangement of events meant to be read

simultaneously. Billy jumps in time to a visit to the Grand Canyon taken

when he was twelve years old. He is terrified of the canyon. His mother

touches him and he wets his pants. He jumps forward in time just ten days,

to later in the same vacation. He is visiting Carlsbad Caverns. The ranger

turns the lights off, so that the tourists can experience total darkness.

But Billy sees a light nearby: the radium dial of his father's watch.

Billy jumps back to the war. The Germans think Billy is one of the funniest

creatures they've seen in all of the war. His coat is preposterously small,

and on his already awkward body it looks ridiculous. The Americans give

their names and serial numbers so that they can be reported to the Red

Cross, and then they are marched to sheds occupied by middle-aged British

POWs. The British welcome them with singing. These British POWs are

officers, some of the first Brits taken prisoner in the war. They have been

prisoners for four years. Due to a clerical error early in the war, the Red

Cross shipped them an incredible surplus of food, which they have hoarded

cleverly. Consequently, they are some of the best-fed people in Europe.

Their German captors adore them.

To prepare for their American guests, the Brits have cleaned and set out

party favors. Candles and soap, supplied by the Germans, are plentiful: the

British do not know that these items are made from the bodies of Holocaust

victims. They have prepared a huge dinner and a dramatic adaptation of

Cinderella. Billy is so unhinged that his laughter at the performance

becomes hysterical shrieking, and he is taken to the hospital and doped up

on morphine. Edgar Derby watches over him, reading The Red Badge of

Courage. He leaps in time to the mental ward where he recovered in 1948.

In the mental ward, Billy's bed is next to the bed of Elliot Rosewater.

Like Billy, he has little love for life, in part because of things he saw

and did in the war. He is the man who introduces Billy to the science

fiction of Kilgore Trout. Billy is enduring one of his mother's dreaded

visits. She is a simple, religious woman. She makes Billy feel worse just

by being there. Billy leaps back in time to the POW camp. A British colonel

talks to Derby; after the newly arrived Americans shaved, the British were

shocked by how young they all were. Derby tells of how he was captured: the

Americans were pushed back into a forest, and the Germans rained shells on

them until they surrendered.

Billy leaps back to the hospital. He is being visited by his ugly,

overweight fiancйe Valencia. He knew he was going crazy when he proposed to

her. He does not want to marry her. She is visiting now, eating a Three

Musketeers bar and wearing a diamond engagement ring that Billy found while

in Germany. Elliot tells her about The Gospel from Outer Space, a Kilgore

Trout book.

Valencia tries to talk to Billy about plans for their wedding and

marriage, but he is not too involved. He leaps forward in time to the zoo

on Trafalmadore, where he was on display when he was forty-four years old.

The habitat is furnished with Sears and Roebuck furniture. He is naked. He

answers questions posed by the Trafalmadorian tourists. He learns that

there are five sexes among the Trafalmadorians, but the sex difference is

only visible in the fourth dimension. On earth there are actually seven

sexes, all necessary to the production of children; earthlings just do not

notice the sex difference between themselves because many of the sex acts

occur in the fourth dimension. These ideas baffle Billy, and they in turn

are baffled by his linear concept of time. Billy expects the

Trafalmadorians to be concerned about or horrified by the wars on earth. He

worries that earthlings will eventually threaten all the other races in the

galaxy, causing the eventual destruction of the universe. The

Trafalmadorians put their hands over their eyes, which lets Billy know that

he is being stupid.

The Trafalmadorians already know how the universe will end: during

experiments with a new fuel, one of their test pilots pushes a button and

the entire universe will disappear. They cannot prevent it. It has always

happened that way. Billy correctly concludes that trying to prevent wars on

Earth is futile. The Trafalmadorians also have wars, but they choose to

ignore them. They spend their time looking at the pleasant moments rather

than the unpleasant ones; they suggest that humans learn to do the same.

Billy leaps back in time to his wedding night. It is six months after his

release from the mental ward. The narrator reminds us that Valencia and her

father are very rich, and Billy will benefit greatly from his marriage to

her. After they have sex, Valencia tries to ask Billy questions about the

war. She wants a heroic war story, but Billy does not really respond to

her. He has a crazy thought about the war, which Vonnegut says would make a

good epitaph for Billy, and for the author, too: "Everything was beautiful,

and nothing hurt." He jumps in time to that night in the prison camp. Edgar

Derby has fallen asleep. Billy, doped up still from the morphine, wanders

out of the hospital shed. He snags himself on a barbed wire fence, and

cannot extract himself until a Russian helps him.

Billy never really says a word to the Russian. He wanders to the latrine,

where the Americans are sick from the feasting. A long period without food

followed by a feast almost always results in violent sickness. Among the

sick Americans is a soldier complaining that he has shit his brains out. It

is Vonnegut. Billy leaves, passing by three Englishmen who watch the

Americans' sickness with disgust. Billy jumps in time again, back to his

wedding night. He and his wife are cozy in bed. He jumps in time again, to

1944. It is before he left for Europe; he is riding the train from South

Carolina, where he was receiving his training, all the way back to Ilium

for his father's funeral.

We return to Billy's morphine night in the POW camp. Paul Lazarro is

carried into the hospital; while attempting to steal cigarettes from a

sleeping British officer, he was beaten up. The officer is the one carrying

him. Seeing now how puny Lazarro is, the officer feels guilty for hitting

him so hard. But he is disgusted by the American POWs. A German soldier who

adores the British officers comes in and apologizes for the inconvenience

of hosting the Americans. He assures the Brits in the room that the

Americans will soon be shipped off for forced labor in Dresden. The German

officer reads propaganda materials written by Howard Campbell, Jr., a

captured American who is now a Nazi. Campbell condemns the self-loathing of

the American poor, the inequalities of America's economic system, and the

miserable behavior of American POWs. Billy falls asleep and wakes up in

1968, where his daughter Barbara is scolding him. Barbara notices the house

is icy cold and goes to call the oil-burner man.

Billy leaps in time to the Trafalmadorian zoo, where Montana Wildhack, a

motion picture star, has been brought in to mate with him. Initially

unconscious, she wakes to find naked Billy and thousands of Trafalmadorians

outside their habitat. They're clapping. She screams. Eventually, though,

she comes to love and trust Billy. After a week they're sleeping together.

He travels in time back to his bed in 1968. The oil-burner man has fixed

the problem with the heater. Billy has just had a wet dream about Montana

Wildhack. The next day, he returns to work. His assistants are surprised to

see him, because they thought that he would never practice again. He has

the first patient sent in, a boy whose father died in Vietnam. Billy tries

to comfort the boy by telling him about the Trafalmadorian concept of time.

The boy's mother informs the receptionist that Billy is going crazy.

Barbara comes to take him home, sick with worry about what how to deal with


Chapter Six. Summary:

Billy wakes after his morphine night in POW camp irresistibly drawn to two

tiny treasures. They draw him like magnets; they are hidden in the lining

of his coat. It will be revealed later on exactly what they are. He goes

back to sleep, and wakes up to the sounds of the British building a new

latrine. They have abandoned their old latrine and their meeting hall to

the Americans. The man who beat up Lazarro stops by to make sure he is all

right, and Lazarro promises that he is going to have the man killed after

the war. After the amused Brit leaves, Lazarro tells Derby and Billy that

revenge is life's sweetest pleasure. He once brutally tortured a dog that

bit him. He is going to have all of his enemies killed after the war. He

tells Billy that Weary was his buddy, and he is going to avenge him by

having Billy shot after the war. Because of his time hopping, Billy knows

that this is true. He will be shot in 1976. At that time, the United States

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