Summary of Slaughterhouse-Five Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, the main character, in chronological order, starting with Billy's capture and imprisonment by Germany during World War II. This story is interspersed with incidents of Billy's life on earth before and after the war, and from his fantasy voyage to the planet Tralfamadore. The plot is somewhat autobiographical, in reference to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
This book has a lot of minor characters. For this reason, only Kurt Vonnegut Jr., as the narrator, and Billy Pilgrim are fully developed. Some of the minor characters are also included in other novels.
The novel starts with Kurt Vonnegut Jr. as the narrator, telling about his frustrating desire to write a novel about the war. However, he is not able to remember much about the war. Vonnegut travels with Bernard V. O'Hare in Dresden in 1967. While in a taxi, they see the slaughterhouse where they had been kept as prisoners during World War II.
We are slowly introduced to Billy Pilgrim, who was born in Illium, New York, in 1922. He is tall and weak, and not ambitious. He became rich partly by his good fortune an partly because he marries a rich woman. Billy was in the infantry in Europe in World War II as a chaplain's assistant. He was taken prisoner by the Germans, and kept in the slaughterhouse along with Vonnegut in Dresden. He survived the Allied bombing along with Vonnegut only because the meat locker where he was kept was underground.
Billy's time-tripping, which refers to his visits to the planet Tralfamadore, starts shortly before his capture by the Germans in 1944. Billy begins to move back and forth through his life in a random sequence of events. During his lifetime, he is in both Illium, New York...