Chapter 3 Summary

The five Germans who capture Billy and Weary are a ramshackle group: two old men with few teeth, two very young boys, and a middle-aged soldier who has been wounded, patched up, and sent back out to fight numerous times. From his vantage point on the ground, Billy admires the shine of the corporal’s polished boots; Billy sees Adam and Eve reflected there. He also notices the rags tied around one of the teenage boy’s feet, which are clad in rough wooden clogs. Looking up, Billy thinks the boy is as beautiful as an angel. Roland Weary’s boots are promptly given to the boy, and Weary forces his feet into the clogs. Three gunshots are heard. The two American scouts have been discovered lying in ambush for the Germans and shot to death. Weary and Billy are marched to a cottage where a number of other POWs are huddled, not speaking. Billy falls asleep on the shoulder of a rabbi who has been shot in the hand.

Billy time-shifts to 1967, where he is examining a patient in his optometry office. He sends the patient to look at frames and worries about World War III, which he expects to break out at any moment. He closes his eyes and jumps back to Luxembourg in 1944, where a German journalist is photographing his and Weary’s poorly shod feet. The reporter also stages a photograph of Billy being “captured” in a dramatic fashion by the German soldiers.

Billy time-shifts to 1967 again, where he is driving to a Lions Club luncheon. The speaker that day is a major in the Marines who has served two tours of duty in Vietnam. The major believes that the U.S. must keep fighting in Vietnam to keep Communism from spreading; he advocates “bombing North Vietnam back into the Stone Age” if necessary. Later, the major tells Billy he should be proud of his son Robert, since the Green Berets are doing such a good job in Vietnam. Billy says he is proud of his son, then goes home for a nap. His doctor has recently advised him to take a nap every day after lunch as treatment for Billy’s recent bouts of inexplicable weeping. Billy...

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Essays About Slaughterhouse-Five