“Unexpectedly, Billy Pilgrim found himself upset by the song and the occasion. He had never had an old gang, old sweethearts and pals, but he missed one anyway, as the quartet made slow, agonized experiments with chords–chords intentionally sour, sourer still, unbearably sour, and then a chord that was suffocatingly sweet, and then some sour ones again. Billy had powerful psychosomatic responses to the changing chords. His mouth filled with the taste of lemonade, and his face became grotesque, as though he really were being stretched on the torture engine called the rack…
There was a fire storm out there. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn.
‘Dresden was destroyed on the night of February 13, 1945,’ Billy Pilgrim began. ‘We came out of our shelter the next day.’ He told Montana about the four guards who, in their astonishment and grief, resembled a barbershop quartet. He told her about the stockyards with all the fenceposts gone, with roofs and windows gone–told her about seeing little logs lying around. There were people who had been caught in the fire storm. So it goes.”Pg.172-173, 178-179
I’m tired of having my heart broken, Vonnegut. Do you hear me? I’m tired.
On the day of their anniversary, Billy and Valencia celebrate by throwing a party at their house. While a quartet sings, Billy becomes repulsed by them, but he is unable to understand why. It is after this that Billy is thrown back to the aftermath of the bombing in Dresden. He remembers the faces of the guards who saw thousands of lifeless, charred corpses. They were faces that resembled a barbershop quartet.
Sometimes I ponder what Hell is. Hell is not a burning fiery pit, some say. I must agree with them. Rather, Hell is your worst, most traumatizing memory relived for eternity. If that is the case, then Billy is already in Hell.
Every day, no matter how cheerful that day is supposed to be, ends with Billy having to relive the trauma he faced in the war. It ends with Billy being thrown into the torturous pits of his own memories.
I’ve come to see a small glimpse of what PTSD is like, and I can fully say that I was what was wrong with the majority of people today. I didn’t understand PSTD, nor did I even want to. I heard the words “War,” “Death,” “PSTD,” “Trauma,” and I didn’t bat an eyelash. I was numb to the reality of it all. My heart couldn’t connect to those of the men and women fighting wars, laying down their lives to protect mine. I saw movies such as American Sniper, and I couldn’t process any of it then. I’m not the only one. Many kids today have no compassion for veterans or those dealing with PTSD. These sufferings have been so glossed over to the point of apathy in the hearts of millions. This book has been the biggest destabilization for me in that sense.
I’ve already finished the book, and I can tell you that chapter nine is the most heartbreaking of them all. I could barely get through it without crying. I’m excited to share it with you guys, so I’ll see you all next time!