The author discusses the false starts and the dead ends he experienced in his twenty-three year struggle to write a book about the fire bombing of Dresden which he experienced as a prisoner of the Germans at the end of World War II.
Identify vocabulary — What is Guggenheim money?
Identify characters — Who are Bernard V. O’Hare, Gerhard Muller, Harrison Starr, Edgar Derby, Paul Lazzaro, Mary O’Hare
1.What aspects of the book does the author insist really happened?
2.How did the author find O’Hare?
3.What souvenirs does he recall the American POWs bringing out of Germany?
4.What does the author do to entertain himself late at night? Why can’t he sleep?
5.What did the author learn in college after the war?
6.What jobs did the author have after the war?
7.What fatal accident did he cover?
8.What difference does the author see in the veterans who “really fought” and the veterans who had office jobs? Why do you think this difference exists?
9.What response does the author get when he tries to get information about the Dresden raid from the Air Force?
10.Who originally said, “Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni”? What does this phrase mean in English?
11.Why is Mary “polite but chilly”?
12.What happened during the real Children’s Crusade?
13.Why is the book “so short and jumbled and jangled”?
14.Why does the author say that the book “was written by a pillar of salt”?
The reader is introduced to the main character, Billy Pilgrim. The chapter introduces the concept of coming “unstuck in time” and tells the main events of Billy’s life, emphasizing the events leading up to his capture by the German army at the end of World War II.
Identify characters — Who are Billy Pilgrim, Barbara, Robert, Roland Weary, Valencia
1.What does the author mean when he says that Billy “has come unstuck in time”?
2.What are the major events of Billy’s life depicted in this chapter?
3.What is Tralfamadore? What happens to Billy there?
4.How does Billy describe the Tralfamadorians?
5.What ability do the Tralfamadorians have that Earthlings do not?
6.What is the origin of the phrase, “so it goes”?
7.Describe Billy’s war experience up to his capture?
8.How is he captured? With whom?
9.When and how did Billy first come unstuck in time? Describe the experience.
10.Why does Weary try to beat Billy?