Chapter 8 Summary

The prisoners in Slaughterhouse-Five receive a visit from Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American writer who writes propaganda for the Nazi party. He is on a recruiting mission for a German military unit called the Free American Corps established to fight only on the Russian front. He argues that the Americans will have to fight Communism eventually, so they might as well start now. Even though Campbell promises the prisoners elaborate meals and repatriation through Switzerland if they will join, there are no takers. Edgar Derby stands up and denounces Campbell, saying that he is lower than “a blood-filled tick.” Derby speaks passionately about the American ideals of freedom and justice, and says that Americans and Russians are joined in brotherhood against Nazism. When air raid sirens begin to sound, the prisoners, the German guards, and Campbell all retreat to the underground meat locker of the slaughterhouse. The narrator tells us that no bombs fall that night, but that the following night nearly 130,000 people would die in Dresden.

Billy time-jumps back to his house in Ilium, where his daughter Barbara is denouncing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout. She believes Trout is responsible for Billy’s delusions about being kidnapped by aliens. The narrator describes how Billy met Trout in 1964. Driving down an alley in Ilium, where Trout also lives, Billy encounters Trout berating a group of newspaper delivery boys whom he manages since he doesn’t make any money as an author. Recognizing Trout from the author photo on his novels, Billy invites him to his upcoming anniversary party. At the party, many of Billy’s guests are impressed by Trout because they have never met an author before, even though no one is familiar with his books. The barbershop quartet of optometrists also sings at the party. Billy has an intense emotional reaction to their singing. His face contorts in such a way that the guests become concerned. Kilgore Trout offers the suggestion that perhaps Billy has just seen through a “time window,” but Billy denies this....

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Essays About Slaughterhouse-Five