Discussion questions – Slaughterhouse Five

Discussion Questions

1. After reading the book, why do you think that Vonnegut dedicated his novel to Mary O’Hare and Gerhard Muller?

2. Why does Vonnegut choose to write a “jumbled and jangled” war book?

3. What is the significance of the phrase “so it goes”?

4. What is the significance of the bird cry “poo-tee-weet”?

5. Explain the subtitle, “The Children’s Crusade or a Duty Dance With Death.”

6. Discuss the major themes of Slaughterhouse-Five?

7. How does Vonnegut use time to communicate his themes?

8. Discuss the use of irony in the novel.

9. Are we intended to believe Billy’s tales of Tralfamadore or are we, like Barbara, supposed to assume that Tralfamadore is a figment of Billy’s post-brain-damaged imagination?

Slaughterhouse Five

The next meeting of the Veterans Book Club will be Thursday March 26, 5:30 in Room 301 of the Schurz Library to discuss Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

We hope you can join us to discuss this classic novel by Indiana author Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a chance to read, (or re-read) “one of the most enduring antiwar novels of all time”.  Incorporating satire, science fiction and historical events, it centers on the infamous firebombing of Dresden during WWII, which Mr. Vonnegut experienced as a prisoner of war.  ​Published in 1969, (50 years ago!) it still speaks to the horrors of war, and the toll it takes on those who experience it.

Mr. Max Goller​, veteran, educator and  Director of  Education at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library of Indianapolis, will be leading the conversation.

Discussion questions for Tribe

  • What can we do as society to improve how we reintegrate military personal back into the everyday community?
  • Junger cites some interesting research showing that the likelihood of a veteran suffering PTSD is “in great part a function of their experiences before going to war.”  Do you agree?
  • Some critics feel that Junger glamorizes violence, disaster and catastrophe. Does misery breed company?
  • In tribal life, as in the American military, many of the existential questions are answered for you once you make the big choice to sign up.  In both of them, you don’t need to engage in a daily struggle to achieve your purpose in life. Do you think living in the non-tribal world is harder and often sadder?
  • Junger talks about the ultimate act of disaffiliation is violence against your own. He notes the rise of rampage killings.  What are your thoughts?


Tribe by Sebastian Junger on Jan 30, 2020

Thtribee next meeting of the Veterans Book Club will be Thursday Jan 30, 5:30 in room 301 of the Schurz Library.  We will be discussing:Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. 

This New York Times bestseller combines history, psychology, and anthropology to explore why humans naturally gravitate to small, closely connected groups with a common purpose.  The author argues that this tendency has a profound impact on veterans who lose that sense of community after returning from conflict. He also suggests some ways that, as a society, we can build on the positive aspects of tribal belonging.

This short book would be a great read for over the holiday break.  Copies of the book can be checked out at the library, (call number HM716 .J86 2016) or by contacting Vicki Bloom (vdbloom@iusb.edu)  Some copies will also be available at the Veteran Services Office in the Administration building, 1st floor.

About the author:  Sebastian Junger is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, Fire, A Death in Belmont, War and Tribe.  As an award-winning journalist, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a special correspondent at ABC News, he has covered major international news stories around the world, and has received both a National Magazine Award and a Peabody Award.

Wall That Heals

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica & Mobile Education Center is coming to South Bend on September 19-22, 2019

The St. Joseph Funeral Home is proud to announce that our cemetery has been selected to be a host of The Wall That Heals, a ¾ scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Wall That Heals exhibit is open to the public day and night throughout the visit.

The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military – discussion on Oct 3rd

doublevWe will be discussing, The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military, by Rawn James, Jr.  ​on Thursday, October 3, at 5:30 in the third floor conference room of the Schurz Library.

We are so fortunate to have two interesting and knowledgeable leaders for our discussion  — Dr. Alfred Guillaume, Jr., former Executive Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and emeritus professor of French, who will be sharing some of his experiences with race in the military during the time he served in Vietnam and Dr. Gary Donaldson, emeritus professor of history from Xavier University.  Dr. Donaldson has written extensively on mid-century American history, as well as a book about the Double V campaign.  

Copies of the book are available by contacting Vicki (vdbloom@iusb.edu)   The book club is open to everyone interested in exploring veteran’s experiences – feel free to share.

75th Anniversary of D-Day: June 6

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.  It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with more than 160,000 Allied troops landing along the 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany.  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

What does the “D” in D-Day mean?

This is the most frequently asked question by visitors to The National WWII Museum. Many people think they know the answer: designated day, decision day, doomsday, or even death day. But the answer is not so simple.   In Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, he writes:

Time magazine reported on June 12 [1944] that “as far as the U.S. Army can determine, the first use of D for Day, H for Hour was in Field Order No. 8, of the First Army, A.E.F., issued on Sept. 20, 1918, which read, ‘The First Army will attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient.’” (p. 491)

In other words, the D in D-Day merely stands for Day. This coded designation was used for the day of any important invasion or military operation. For military planners (and later historians), the days before and after a D-Day were indicated using plus and minus signs: D-4 meant four days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day.

In Paul Dickson’s War Slang, he quotes Robert Hendrickson’s Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins:

Many explanations have been given for the meaning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II. The Army has said that it is “simply an alliteration, as in H-Hour.” Others say the first D in the word also stands for “day,” the term a code designation. The French maintain the D means “disembarkation,” still others say “debarkation,” and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for “day of decision.” When someone wrote to General Eisenhower in 1964 asking for an explanation, his executive assistant Brigadier General Robert Schultz answered: “General Eisenhower asked me to respond to your letter. Be advised that any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used.” (p.146) Brigadier General Schultz reminds us that the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 was not the only D-Day of World War II. Every amphibious assault—including those in the Pacific, in North Africa, and in Sicily and Italy—had its own D-Day.

Want to learn more about D-Day?

D-Day, June 6, 1944 : the climactic battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose.  call number:  D756.5.N6 A455 1994

The longest day : June 6, 1944 by Cornelius Ryan. call number: D756.5.N6 R9 1994

D-day [streaming media]. 45 minutes.
URL:  Access for [Bloomington, Columbus, East, IUPUI, Kokomo, Northwest, South Bend, Southeast] – (Available on campus and off campus with authorized logon)

Reading List for Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 is out!


The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military by Rawn James, Jr. – Reveals how the campaign for equality in the military gave impetus to the fight for equality in civilian society.  NONFICTION

Mission Betrayed: How the VA Really Fails America’s Vets – Written by cardiothoracic surgeon, Michael J. Mann, a look into VA health care delivery.  NONFICTION

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger – Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, this book explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that for many veterans as well as civilians, war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations.  NONFICTION

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Considered one of the world’s great antiwar books. It centers on the infamous firebombing of Dresden during WWII.  FICTION