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Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut

Contents

Chapter 9

page 1 of 2

Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Summary

A hysterical Valencia drives to the hospital where Billy is recovering from the plane crash. She hits another car on the way and drives from the scene of the accident without a functioning exhaust system. She pulls up in front of the hospital and passes out from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her face is bright blue. She dies one hour later.

Billy is unconscious, time-traveling and oblivious to his wife’s passing. In the next bed, an arrogant Harvard history professor named Bertram Copeland Rumfoord is recovering from a skiing accident. Rumfoord is the official Air Force historian, and he is working on a condensed history of the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. He has to write a section on the smashing success of Dresden’s bombing, despite the fact that some of his sources characterize it as an unnecessary carnage.

When Billy first regains consciousness, everyone thinks the accident has left him a vegetable. But behind his catatonic facade he is preparing to tell the world about Tralfamadore and to explain the true nature of time. Billy tells Rumfoord that he was in Dresden for the firebombing, but the professor doesn’t want to listen. Billy then travels back to a May afternoon in Dresden, two days before the end of the war.

Many Germans have fled because they heard that the Russians were coming. Billy and a few other prisoners find a green, coffin-shaped wagon hitched to two horses, and they fill it with food and souvenirs. Outside the slaughterhouse, Billy remains in the wagon and dozes in the sun. It is a happy moment in his life. The sound of a middle-aged German couple talking about the horses awakens him. The animals’ mouths are bleeding, their hooves are broken, and they are dying of thirst. Billy has been oblivious to their poor condition until now. The couple makes Billy get out and look at the animals, and he begins to cry his first tears of the war.

Back in the hospital the next day, Rumfoord quizzes Billy about Dresden. Billy’s daughter, Barbara, arrives and takes him home. She places him under the care of a live-in nurse. Billy’s message cannot wait any longer. He sneaks out and drives to New York City to tell the world about Tralfamadore.

Once in the city, Billy goes to Times Square. He sees four Kilgore Trout books in the window of an adult bookstore and goes in to read them. One of the books is about an earthling man and woman who are kidnapped by aliens and taken to a zoo on a faraway planet. While inside the shop, Billy glimpses the headline of a pornographic magazine: “What really became of Montana Wildhack?” He also sees a few seconds of a pornographic movie starring a teenaged Montana.

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CHAPTER 9 QUICK QUIZ

Harvard history professor Bertram Copeland Rumfoord is recovering from ___.
A car accident
A skiing accident
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