I just finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut a couple days ago. I can’t honestly say that I couldn’t put it down because it really didn’t have me spellbound. That said, I kept putting off putting it down and ended up reading just about the whole thing in one night.
Only once was I distracted and tempted to move on to other things or go to sleep.
Throughout the book every single reference to a specific death and several references to death in the abstract are followed with: “So it goes.”
And then, in the book’s penultimate chapter:
Billy Pilgrim checked into the Royalton Hotel on Forty-fourth Street in New York. He by chance was given a room which had once been the home of George Jean Nathan, the critic and editor. Nathan, according to the Earthling concept of time, had died back in 1958. According to the Tralfamadorian concept, of course, Nathan was still alive somewhere and always would be.
What makes this mention of a death different than the others?
I’m afraid it’s something obvious like a difference in contexts. The mention of the death is bracketed by a reminder of Tralfamadorian reality. Usually, the various deaths are being looked at from an Earthling perspective. Maybe this is the one exception.
It doesn’t seem like it’s that simple though, and it’s bugging me.
If there isn’t an answer to this question or I don’t find it out, I’ll wonder till I die.
So it goes.