Use this Slaughterhouse Five teacher's guide to review major elements of the novel and prepare yourself to teach Vonnegut's classic anti-war novel. It includes lesson plans, a character list, a summary and analysis.
slide 1 of 4
Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. He makes this known after becoming the lone survivor of a plane crash in Vermont. Billy is also insane. His insanity is the result of his experience in World War II. Billy Pilgrim was stranded behind enemy lines after The Battle of the Bulge. He was eventually taken prisoner and sent to Slaughterhouse Five, Dresden, Germany. While in Dresden, he witnessed the incineration of the city.
After the war, Billy marries into wealth, reads the science fiction of Kilgore Trout, and claims to have been kidnapped by Tralfamadorians, an alien race who explains the absurdity of free will and the intricacies of time travel.
slide 2 of 4
Keep track with this Slaughterhouse Five character list.
Billy Pilgrim - the story's protagonist who claims to have been kidnapped by aliens and that he travels through time.
Kurt Vonnegut - the author who appears at random moments in the novel.
Roland Weary - an insecure bully who saves Billy's life, even though Billy doesn't want it saved.
Paul Lazzaro - Roland's friend who vows revenge on Billy for causing Weary's death. According to Billy, he discovers through time travel that Lazzaro kills him at a convention in Chicago.
Edgar Derby - forty-year old former teacher who is killed for stealing a teapot after the bombing of Dresden.
Valencia - Billy's fat wife whose wealthy father sets Billy up in business.
Eliot Rosewater - sleeps in the bed next to Billy in a mental hospital.
Montana Wildhack - Billy's mate in the Tralfamadorian zoo.
Tralfamadorians - a race of aliens that kidnap Billy and teach him about time travel.
slide 3 of 4
Before teaching Slaughterhouse Five to high school students, I would strongly recommend sending home a letter to have signed by parents. The letter should indicate that the novel uses mature language and contains adult situations and may be offensive to some. Encourage parents to read the novel along with their child and notify parents that an alternative novel is available, if warranted.
Slaughterhouse Five contains elements of science fiction. Try this writing science fiction lesson plan before or while reading the novel. Make sure students include time travel in their creative writing piece.