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Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

1) What does the phrase “so it goes” mean in the novel?

The phrase “so it goes” appears after every mention of death and mortality in Slaughterhouse-Five. This seemingly flippant phrase reflects a Tralfamadorian philosophy that comforts Billy Pilgrim: while a person is dead in one particular moment, they are still alive and well in all of the other moments of their life, because all of time exists at once. Billy appreciates the simplicity of the Tralfamadorian response to death, and every time he encounters a dead person, he “simply shrug[s]” and says “so it goes.” The repetition of this phrase also illustrates how war desensitizes people to death, since with each passive mention of “so it goes,” the narrator is subtly tallying the death toll.