Chapter 7 Summary

It is twenty-five years after Billy’s arrival in Dresden. He boards a chartered plane along with his father-in-law, Lionel Merble, and twenty-eight other optometrists. They are all flying to a convention in Canada. As Billy boards the plane, he knows that it is doomed to crash, but does not want to embarrass himself by saying so. Four optometrists forming a barbershop quartet sing to entertain the passengers. Lionel Merble is particularly entertained by their offensive songs, which are often insulting towards Polish people. The plane crashes on Sugarbush Mountain in Vermont, killing nearly everyone. Only Billy and the copilot survive. They are discovered by Austrian skiers who are speaking in German to each other. In his confusion, Billy thinks he is back in World War II, and whispers his address: “Schlachthof-funf.” Billy is taken to a private hospital with a fractured skull, where a neurosurgeon from Boston operates on him for three hours. During two days of unconsciousness, Billy dreams and continues jumping around in time.

Billy is back in Dresden, 1945, during his first night at the slaughterhouse. He and Edgar Derby have been sent to the kitchen to get supper for the other POWs. They are being guarded by an awkward, skinny German teenager named Werner Gluck who, thinking he is opening a door to the kitchen, mistakenly opens the door to a communal shower. Inside are thirty teenage girl refugees from Breslau, all naked. The three men stand for a moment in amazement, staring, while the girls scream and try to cover themselves. Neither Billy nor Gluck has ever seen a naked woman before. In the kitchen, a war widow is making soup. She observes that Gluck seems too young to be in the Army, Derby seems too old, and Billy just seems ridiculous. She says that “all the real soldiers are dead.”

 The POWs are put to work in Dresden doing various cleaning chores and bottling malt syrup. The syrup, made for pregnant women, is enriched with vitamins and minerals. The prisoners often eat quick spoonfuls of the syrup even though it is a...

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Essays About Slaughterhouse-Five