Read "Slaughterhouse-Five A Novel" by Kurt Vonnegut available from Rakuten Kobo. A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut's masterpiece. Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE OR THE C HIL DREN'S CRUSADE A Duty-dance with Death KURT VONNEGUT, JR. [NAL Release #21] [15 jan - OCR errors .
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SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. OR THE CHILDREN'S. CRUSADE. A Duty-dance with Death. KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Grateful acknowledgment is made for. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, , Dell Pub. Co. edition. Selected by the Modern Library as one of the best novels of all time Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books.
Yet, the time is taken, and Vonnegut takes the outside opinion of the bird asking, "Poo-tee-weet? Slaughterhouse-Five is framed with chapters in the author's voice, about his experience of war, indicating the novel is intimately connected with his life and convictions. Literary significance and reception The reviews of Slaughterhouse-Five have been largely positive since the 31 March review in The New York Times newspaper that glowingly concedes: "you'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner.
Le Guin. In , the Modern Library ranked Slaughterhouse-Five eighteenth on its list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century. It also appeared in Time magazine's list of the best English-language novels written since It appears times. As a postmodern , metafictional novel, the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five is an author's preface about how he came to write Slaughterhouse-Five, apologizing, because the novel is "so short and jumbled and jangled," because "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.
The first sentence says: "All this happened, more or less. The story repeatedly refers to real and fictional novels and fiction; Billy reads The Valley of the Dolls , and skims a Tralfamadorian novel, and participates in a radio talk show, part of a literary-expert panel discussing "The Death of the Novel. The story itself begins in chapter two, although there is no reason to presume that the first chapter is not fictional. This is a technique common to postmodern meta-fiction. Vonnegut's writing usually contains such disorder.
The Narrator reports that Billy Pilgrim experiences his life discontinuously, wherein he randomly experiences re-lives his birth, youth, old age, and death, not in normal linear order. There are two narrative threads: Billy's experience of War itself interrupted with experiences from elsewhere in his life , which is mostly linear; and his discontinuous pre-war and post-war lives. Billy's existential perspective was compromised in witnessing Dresden's destruction, although he had come unstuck in time before arriving to Dresden.
He then segues to the story of Billy Pilgrim: "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time", thus, the transition from the writer's perspective to that of the third-person, omniscient Narrator. Kilgore Trout, whom Billy Pilgrim meets operating a newspaper delivery business, can be seen as Vonnegut's alter ego, though the two differ in some respects. For example, Trout's career as a science-fiction novelist is checkered with thieving publishers, and the fictional author is unaware of his readership.
Censorship controversy Slaughterhouse-Five has been the subject of many attempts at censorship , due to its irreverent tone and purportedly obscene content. It was one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, referred to in the novel as "fairies," were among the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
Slaughterhouse-Five continues to be controversial. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library countered by offering free copies of the novel to Republic High School students on a first come, first served basis. However, recent publications place the figure between 24, and 40, and question Irving's research. Scholl, is that: Vonnegut's critics seem to think that he is saying the same thing [as the Tralfamadorians]. Fictional novelist Kilgore Trout , often an important character in other Vonnegut novels, in Slaughterhouse-Five is a social commentator and a friend to Billy Pilgrim.
In one case, he is the only non- optometrist at a party, therefore, he is the odd-man-out. In Trout's opinion, people do not know if the things they do turn out to be good or bad, and if they turn out to be bad, they go to Hell, where "the burning never stops hurting".
Rosewater ; Howard W.
Mr Rosewater says that Fyodor Dostoevsky 's novel, The Brothers Karamazov , contains "everything there was to know about life". Vonnegut references The Marriage of Heaven and Hell at one point when talking about William Blake , Billy's hospital mate's favourite poet. It should be noted that while Vonnegut re-uses characters, the characters are frequently rebooted and do not necessarily maintain the same biographical details from appearance to appearance.
Kilgore Trout in particular is palpably a different person although with distinct, consistent character traits in each of his appearances in Vonnegut's work. As Wilfrid Sheed has pointed out, Billy's solution to the problems of the modern world is to "invent a heaven, out of 20th century materials, where Good Technology triumphs over Bad Technology.
His scripture is Science Fiction, Man's last, good fantasy". Billy's wife, Valencia, wears a Reagan for President! The bumper sticker was edited out of a broadcast version of the film which aired on at least one cable channel during or after the Reagan administration.
Another bumper sticker is mentioned that says "Impeach Earl Warren. Vonnegut was beaten and imprisoned in this building during World War II, and it is because of the meat locker in the building's basement that he—and Billy—survived the fire-bombing. Today, the site is largely intact and protected. Download ebook for print-disabled. Prefer the physical book?
Check nearby libraries with:. Add an ISBN in order to link to booksellers. Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page. Need help? Last edited by WorkBot. November 5, History. Add another edition? Slaughterhouse-five Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse-five Close.
Want to Read. And so on to infinity.
Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I've usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden. I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, 'Is it an anti-war book?
What do you say, Harrison Starr? I believe that too. When I was somewhat younger, working on my famous Dresden book, I asked an old war buddy named Bernard V. O'Hare if I could come to see him. He was a district attorney in Pennsylvania. I was a writer on Cape Cod. We had been privates in the war, infantry scouts. We had never expected to make any money after the war, but we were doing quite well.
I had the Bell Telephone Company find him for me. They are wonderful that way. I have this, disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses.
And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years. I got O'Hare on the line in this way. He is short and I am tall. We were Mutt and Jeff in the war. We were captured together in the war. I told him who I was on the telephone.
He had no trouble believing it. He was up. He was reading. Everybody else in his house was asleep. I wonder if I could come down and see you, and we could drink and talk and remember. He told me, though, to come ahead. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands of people are killed.
And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot. The best outline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wallpaper. One end of the wallpaper was the beginning of the story, and the other end was the end, and then there was all that middle part, which was the middle. And the blue line met the red line and then the yellow line, and the yellow line stopped because the character represented by the yellow line was dead.
The destruction of Dresden was represented by a vertical band of orange cross-hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passed through it, came out the other side.
The end, where all the lines stopped, was a beeffield on the Elbe, outside of Halle. The rain was coming down. The war in Europe had been over for a couple of weeks. We were formed in ranks, with Russian soldiers guarding us-Englishmen, Americans, Dutchmen, Belgians, Frenchmen, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians, thousands of us about to stop being prisoners of war.
And on the other side of the field were thousands of Russians and Poles and Yugoslavians and so on guarded by American soldiers. An exchange was made there in the rain-one for one. O'Hare and I climbed into the back of an American truck with a lot of others.
Almost everybody else did. I had a ceremonial Luftwaffe saber, still do. An idiotic Englishman, who had lost all his teeth somewhere had his souvenir in a canvas bag. The bag was resting on my insteps. He would peek into the bag every now and then, and he would roll his eyes and swivel his scrawny neck,, trying to catch people looking covetously at his bag. And he would bounce the bag on my insteps. I thought this bouncing was accidental. But I was mistaken. He had to show somebody what was in the bag, and he had decided he could trust me.
He caught my eye, winked, opened the bag. There was a plaster model of the Eiffel Tower in there. It was painted gold. It had a clock in it. And we were flown to a rest camp in France, where we were fed chocolate malted milkshakes and other rich foods until we were all covered with baby fat.
Then we were sent home, and I married a pretty girl who was covered with baby fat, too. And we had babies. And they're all grown up now, and I'm an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls.
Sometimes I try to call up old girl friends on the telephone late at night, after my wife has gone to bed. So-and- So. I think she lives at such-and-such.
There is no such listing. Thanks just the same. I let him know I like him, and he lets me know he likes me. He doesn't mind the smell of mustard gas and roses. You're O. Sooner or later I go to bed, and my wife asks me what time it is. She always has to know the time.
I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still. Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. While I was studying to be an anthropologist, I was also working as a police reporter for the famous Chicago City News Bureau for twenty-eight dollars a week.
One time they switched me from the night shift to the day shift. We were supported by all the newspapers in town, and the AP and the UP and all that. And we would cover the courts and the police stations and the Fire Department and the Coast Guard out on Lake Michigan and all that. We were connected to the institutions that supported us by means of pneumatic tubes which ran under the streets of Chicago.
Reporters would telephone in stories to writers wearing headphones, and the writers would stencil the stories on mimeograph sheets. The stories were mimeographed and stuffed into the brass and velvet cartridges which the pneumatic tubes ate.
And the first story I covered I had to dictate over the telephone to one of those beastly girls. It was about a young veteran who had taken a job running an old-fashioned elevator in an office building.
The elevator door on the first floor was ornamental iron lace. Iron ivy snaked in and out of the holes. There was an iron twig with two iron lovebirds perched upon it.
This veteran decided to take his car into the basement, and he closed the door and started down, but his wedding ring Was caught in all the ornaments.
So he was hoisted into the air and the floor of the car went down, dropped out from under him, and the top of the car squashed him. So I phoned this in, and the woman who was going to cut the stencil asked me. Say you have some sad news. Give her the news, and see what she says. She said about what you would expect her to say. There was a baby. When I got back to the office, the woman writer asked me, just for her own information, what the squashed guy had looked Eke when he was squashed.
I told her. She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar. Not many Americans knew how much worse it had been than Hiroshima, for instance. I happened to tell a University of Chicago professor at a cocktail party about the raid as I had seen it, about the book I would write.
He was a member of a thing called The Committee on Social Thought. And he told me about the concentration camps, and about how the Germans had made soap and candles out of the fat of dead Jews and so on. All could say was, 'I know, I know. I know. My boss there was one of the toughest guys I ever hope to meet. He had been a lieutenant colonel in public relations in Baltimore. While I was in Schenectady he joined the Dutch Refonned Church, which is a very tough church, indeed.
My wife and I had lost our baby fat. Those were our scrawny years. We had a lot of scrawny veterans and their scrawny wives for friends. I wrote the Air Force back then, asking for details about the raid on Dresden, who ordered it, how many planes did it, why they did it, what desirable results there had been and so on.
I was answered by a man who, like myself, was in public relations. He said that he was sorry, but that the infonnation was top secret still. I read the letter out loud to my wife, and I said, 'Secret? My God-from whom? Telephoners, I guess. A couple of weeks after I telephoned my old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare, I really did go to see him.
That must have been in or so-whatever the last year was for the New York World's Fair. Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni. My name is Yon Yonson. There was a young man from Stamboul. I took two little girls with me, my daughter, Nanny, and her best friend, Allison Mitchell. They had never been off Cape Cod before. When we saw a river, we had to stop so they could stand by it and think about it for a while. They had never seen water in that long and narrow, unsalted form before.
The river was the Hudson. There were carp in there and we saw them. They were as big as atomic submarines.
We saw waterfalls, too, streams jumping off cliffs into the valley of the Delaware. There were lots of things to stop and see-and then it was time to go, always time to go.
The little girls were wearing white party dresses and black party shoes, so strangers would know at once how nice they were. And we would go. And the sun went down, and we had supper in an Italian place, and then I knocked on the front door of the beautiful stone house of Bernard V. I was carrying a bottle of Irish whiskey like a dinner bell. I met his nice wife, Mary, to whom I dedicate this book.
I dedicate it to Gerhard Muller, the Dresden taxi driver, too. Mary O'Hare is a trained nurse, which is a lovely thing for a woman to be. She was polite but chilly. But she took us into the kitchen. She had put two straight-backed chairs at a kitchen table with a white porcelain top.
That table top was screaming with reflected light from a two-hundred-watt bulb overhead. Mary had prepared an operating room. She put only one glass on it, which was for me. So we sat down. O'Hare was embarrassed, but he wouldn't tell me what was wrong. I was a family man. She fixed herself a Coca-Cola, made a lot of noise banging the ice-cube tray in the stainless steel sink. Then she went into another part of the house. She was moving all over the house, opening and shutting doors, even moving furniture around to work off anger.
He was lying. It had everything to do with me. So we tried to ignore Mary and remember the war. I took a couple of belts of the booze I'd brought. We would chuckle or grin sometimes, as though war stories were coming back, but neither one of us could remember anything good. O'Hare remembered one guy who got into a lot of wine in Dresden, before it was bombed, and we had to take him home in a wheelbarrow. I remembered two Russian soldiers who had looted a clock factory. They had a horse-drawn wagon full of clocks.
They were happy and drunk. They were smoking huge cigarettes they had rolled in newspaper. That was about it for memories, and Mary was still making noise. She finally came out in the kitchen again for another Coke. She took another tray of ice cubes from the refrigerator, banged it in the sink, even though there was already plenty of ice out.
Then she turned to me, let me see how angry she was, and that the anger was for me. She had been talking to herself, so what she said was a fragment of a much larger conversation. We had been foolish virgins in the war, right at the end of childhood. It was an accusation. And war will look just wonderful, so we'll have a lot more of them. And they'll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs. It was war that made her so angry. She didn't want her babies or anybody else's babies killed in wars.
And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: O'Hare and I gave up on remembering, went into the living room, talked about other things. It was first published in London in Mackay had a low opinion of all Crusades. The Children's Crusade struck him as only slightly more sordid than the ten Crusades for grown-ups.
O'Hare read this handsome passage out loud: History in her solemn page informs us that the Crusaders were but ignorant and savage men, that their motives were those of bigotry unmitigated, and that their pathway was one of blood and wars. Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, and portrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered to Christianity.
And then O'Hare read this: Now what was the grand result of all these struggles? Europe expended millions of her treasures, and the blood of two million of her people; and a handful of quarrelsome knights retained possession of Palestine for about one hundred years!
Mackay told us that the Children's Crusade started in , when two monks got the idea of raising armies of children in Germany and France, and selling them in North Africa as slaves. Thirty thousand children volunteered, thinking they were going to Palestine. They were no doubt idle and deserted children who generally swarm in great cities, nurtured on vice and daring, said Mackay, and ready for anything. Pope Innocent the Third thought they were going to Palestine, too, and he was thrilled.
Most of the children were shipped out of Marseilles, and about half of them drowned in shipwrecks. The other half got to North Africa where they were sold. Through a misunderstanding, some children reported for duty at Genoa, where no slave ships were waiting.
They were fed and sheltered and questioned kindly by good people there -then given a little money and a lot of advice and sent back home. I slept that night in one of the children's bedrooms.
It was published in , and its introduction began It is hoped that this little book will make itself useful It attempts to give to an English- reading public a bird's-eye view of how Dresden came to look as it does, architecturally; of how it expanded musically, through the genius of a few men, to its present bloom; and it calls attention to certain permanent landmarks in art that make its Gallery the resort of those seeking lasting impressions.
I read some history further on Now, in , Dresden underwent siege by the Prussians. On the fifteenth of July began the cannonade. The Picture-Gallery took fire.
Many of the paintings had been transported to-the Konigstein, but some were seriously injured by splinters of bombshells-notably Francia's 'Baptism of Christ. It later succumbed. In sturdy contrast with the pitiful fate of the Kreuzkirche, stood the Frauenkirche, from the curves of whose stone dome the Prussian bombs - rebounded like rain. Friederich was obliged finally to give up the siege, because he learned of the fall of Glatz, the critical point of his new conquests.
When Goethe as a young student visited the city, he still found sad ruins 'Von der Kuppel der Frauenkirche sah ich these leidigen Triimmer zwischen die schone stddtische Ordnung hineingesat; da riihmte mir der Kiister die Kunst des Baumeisters, welcher Kirche und Kuppel auf einen so uneriiinschten Fall schon eingeyichtet und bombenfest erbaut hatte. Der gute Sakristan deutete mir alsdann aufRuinen nach alien Seiten und sagte bedenklich lakonisch: Das hat her Feind Gethan! And I asked myself about the present: I taught creative writing in the famous Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa for a couple of years after that.
I got into some perfectly beautiful trouble, got out of it again. I taught in the afternoons. In the mornings I wrote. I was not to be disturbed. I was working on my famous book about Dresden.
And somewhere in there a nice man named Seymour Lawrence gave me a three-book contract, and I said, 'O. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.
And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like Too-tee- weet? I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that. It was very good for me, because I saw a lot of authentic backgrounds for made-up stories which I will write later on. There was a Lufthansa plane that was supposed to fly from Philadelphia to Boston to Frankfurt.
But Boston was socked in, so the plane flew straight to Fra nk furt from Philadelphia. And I became a non-person in the Boston Fog, and Lufthansa put me in a limousine with some other non-persons and sent us to a motel for a non-night. The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only with the electric clocks, but the wind-up kind, too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling. I wake to steep, and take my waking slow. I feet my late in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go. Celine was a brave French soldier in the First World War-until his skull was cracked. He became a doctor, and he treated poor people in the daytime, and he wrote grotesque novels all night.
No art is possible without a dance with death, he wrote. The truth is death, he wrote. I've fought nicely against it as long as I could Time obsessed him. Miss Ostrovsky reminded me of the amazing scene in Death on the Installment Plan where Celine wants to stop the bustling of a street crowd. He screams on paper, Make them stop There, make them freeze So that they won't disappear anymore! I looked through the Gideon Bible in my motel room for tales of great destruction. The sun was risen upon the Earth when Lot entered into Zo-ar, I read.
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
Those were vile people in both those cities, as is well known. The world was better off without them. And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been.
But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. She was turned to a pillar of salt. People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore. The next one I write is going to be fun. This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. It begins like this: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. It ends like this: Two Listen: Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day.
He has walked through a door in and come out another one in He has gone back through that door to find himself in He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between.
He says. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next. Billy was bon in in Ilium, New York, the only child of a barber there. He was a funny-looking child who became a funny-looking youth-tall and weak, and shaped like a bottle of Coca-Cola. He graduated from Ilium High School in the upper third of his class, and attended night sessions at the Ilium School of Optometry for one semester before being drafted for military service in the Second World War.
His father died in a hunting accident during the war. Billy saw service with the infantry in Europe, and was taken prisoner by the Germans. After his honorable discharge from the Army in , Billy again enrolled in the Ilium School of Optometry. During his senior year there, he became engaged to the daughter of the founder and owner of the school, and then suffered a mild nervous collapse. He married his fiancee, finished his education, and was set up in business in Ilium by his father-in-law.
Ilium is a particularly good city for optometrists because the General Forge and Foundry Company is there. Every employee is required to own a pair of safety glasses, and to wear them in areas where manufacturing is going on. That calls for a lot of lenses and a lot of frames. Frames are where the money is. Bill became rich. He had two children, Barbara and Robert.
In time, his daughter Barbara married another optometrist. Billy's son Robert had a lot of trouble in high school, but then he joined the famous Green Berets. He straightened out, became a fine young man, and he fought in Vietnam. Early in , a group of optometrists, with Billy among them, chartered an airplane to fly them from Ilium to an international convention of optometrists in Montreal. The plane crashed on top of Sugarbush Mountain, in Vermont.
Everybody was killed but Billy. While Billy was recuperating in a hospital in Vermont, his wife died accidentally of carbon-monoxide poisoning. When Billy finally got home to Ilium after the airplane crash, he was quiet for a while. He had a terrible scar across the top of his skull. He had a housekeeper. His daughter came over almost every day.
And then, without any warning, Billy went to New York City, and got on an all-night radio program devoted to talk. He told about having come unstuck in time. He said, too, that he had been kidnapped by a flying saucer in The saucer was from the planet Tralfamadore, he said. He was taken to Tralfamadore, where he was displayed naked in a zoo, he said.
He was mated there with a former Earthling movie star named Montana Wildhack. Some night owls in Ilium heard Billy on the radio, and one of them called Billy's daughter Barbara. Barbara was upset. She and her husband went down to New York and brought Billy home. Billy insisted mildly that everything he had said on the radio was true. He said he had been kidnapped by the Tralfamadorians on the night of his daughter's wedding.
Another month went by without incident, and then Billy wrote a letter to the Ilium News Leader , which the paper published. It described the creatures from Tralfamadore. The letter said that they were two feet high, and green.
Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm. The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions. They pitied Earthlings for being able to see only three. They had many wonderful things to teach Earthlings, especially about time.
Billy promised to tell what some of those wonderful things were in his next letter. Billy was working on his second letter when the first letter was published. The second letter started out like this: He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance.
They can see how pennanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes. Billy was working on this letter in the basement rumpus room of his empty house. It was his housekeeper's day off. There was an old typewriter in the rumpus room.
It was a beast. It weighed as much as a storage battery. The oil burner had quit. A mouse had eaten through the insulation of a wire leading to the thennostat. He was barefoot, and still in his pajamas and a bathrobe, though it was late afternoon. His bare feet were blue and ivory. The cockles of Billy's heart, at any rate, were glowing coals. What made them so hot was Billy's belief that he was going to comfort so many people with the truth about time.
His door chimes upstairs had been ringing and ringing. It was his daughter Barbara up there wanting in. Now she let herself in with a key, crossed the floor over his head calling, 'Father? Daddy, where are you?
Billy didn't answer her, so she was nearly hysterical, expecting to find his corpse. And then she looked into the very last place there was to look-which was the rumpus room. She had the afternoon paper with her, the one in which Billy described his friends from Tralfamadore. The orchestration of the moment was this: Barbara was only twenty-one years old, but she thought her father was senile, even though he was only forty-six-senile because of damage to his brain in the airplane crash.
She also thought that she was head of the family, since she had had to manage her mother's funeral, since she had to get a housekeeper for Billy, and all that. All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.
And Billy, meanwhile, was trying to hang onto his dignity, to persuade Barbara and everybody else that he was far from senile, that, on the contrary, he was devoting himself to a calling much higher than mere business. He was doing nothing less now, he thought, then prescribing corrective lenses for Earthling souls.