Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 37 (War)

Pretext: In this novel, the character Billy is at present imprisoned as an earthling specimen in a Zoo on the planet Tralfamadore. The exchange below occurs between him and the alien observers who live on that world. Billy is recounting the non-fictional history of primary source/observation (actually observed by Kurt Vonnegut in WW II). The character of Billy represents a human who has lost touch with concrete reality in a number of ways due to the traumatic experiences of his life. His fictional experiences are incorporated with historical reality throughout the novel.

But the subject of war never came up until Billy brought it up himself. Somebody in the zoo crowd asked him through the lecturer what the most valuable thing he learned on Tralfamadore was so far, and Billy replied, “How the inhabitants of a whole planet can live in peace! As you now, I am from a planet that has been engaged in senseless slaughter since the beginning of time. I myself have seen the bodies of schoolgirls who were boiled alive in a water tower by my own country men, who were proud of fighting pure evil at the time.” This was true. Billy saw the boiled bodies in Dresden. “And I have lit my way in a prison at night with candles from the fat of human beings who were butchered by the brothers and fathers of those schoolgirls who were boiled. Earthlings must be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets aren’t now in danger from Earth, they soon will be. So tell me a secret so I can take it back to Earth and save us all: How can a planet live at peace?”

Slaughterhouse Five

Kurt Vonnegut          1969

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