Cast of Characters

Billy Pilgrim: Billy Pilgrim is the central figure of Slaughterhouse-Five. A man who has come “unstuck in time,” Billy travels among the various moments of his life without warning and out of sequential order. As a very young man, Billy serves in World War II and is a prisoner of war in the German city of Dresden when it is annihilated in a month-long air raid. Billy is also a successful optometrist, a husband, a father, and a visitor to the planet Tralfamadore, where he learns about the nature of time.

Kurt Vonnegut: The author of the novel and an intrusive narrator. In the first chapter, Vonnegut tells us that the “war parts” of his novel are “mostly true,” and they are based on his firsthand experience as an American prisoner of war who witnessed and survived the bombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Vonnegut chooses not to cast himself in the role of protagonist; rather, he creates the character of Billy Pilgrim to inhabit a kind of “everyman” role, thus highlighting the absurd tragedy of war for all involved.

Bernard V. O'Hare: Vonnegut describes O’Hare as his “old war buddy,” a man who was also a prisoner of war in Dresden during the firebombing. He goes with Vonnegut to visit Dresden in 1967.

Mary O’Hare: Bernard’s wife, and one of the people to whom Vonnegut dedicates the novel. She angrily accuses Vonnegut of planning to write a novel which glorifies the war, even though the soldiers were really just “babies.” Vonnegut solemnly promises her that he will not portray himself and the other soldiers as heroic, grown men. For Mary, he subtitles the novel “The Children’s Crusade.”

Gerhard Muller: A German taxi driver who befriends Vonnegut and O’Hare on their 1967 visit to Dresden. His mother was killed during the air raid on Dresden. Vonnegut also dedicates Slaughterhouse-Five to him.   


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Essays About Slaughterhouse-Five