“One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters”(pages 208-209). Whew. What a quote. This quote alone speaks volume. It means that people are just usually dead. No pun intended. People have seen so much destruction, death, and corruption that you sort of become dead inside. It’s like a mix between being in constant shock but not being surprised. It’s like living in a matrix sort of. But anyway, let’s dig into the novel. Howard W. Campbell, Jr. is a very different American but not really different. During this time period. In the beginning of the chapter, he is described as being a Nazi. “White is for the race that pioneered the continent, drained the swamps, and cleared the forests and built the roads and bridges. Red is for the blood of American patriots which was shed so gladly in years gone by”(page 207). Now, of course, I would expect an American to be mad about the last part. Bragging about the blood of American patriots or anybody is cringeworthy. However, the ideology that being white was superior is something that I feel like at the time and even now, that a lot of Americans actually believe in. It’s sort of weird to me that many Americans hate Nazis when they share the same ideals. Like are you in denial or what?
In the middle of the novel, Billy finally gets to meet Kilgore Trout. Kilgore Trout is this author that Billy adores because he writes science fiction. What’s so interesting about Kilgore is that he was taken away by the fact that Billy actually called him an author. I mean, nobody really reads his stuff like that. That has a lot to do with the fact that he’s so bitter. Many people probably think he’s a weirdo, which I can’t say I necessarily blame them though. All of his fiction has to do with death in some shape or fashion. He just seems like a weird, bitter person. He’s even like that to the kids who help him deliver his papers. What a jerk. However, I personally don’t find him to be as weird as he comes off but more so misunderstood. I feel like his fiction has an underlying message that many at the time wouldn’t understand. That’s their loss, though.
But anyway, Billy invited him to his 18th wedding anniversary. They played this song named “That Old Gang of Mine” , and Billy freaked out. At first, he didn’t even no why he felt that way. He was an open book (to himself) about many things that happened to him. He then figures out why he was triggered by that song. And yes, if you’re wondering, it has to due with war. It has everything to do about Dresden more specifically. This song was played after the Dresden bombing. It reminded him of all of those dead bodies he had seen while in the war. No wonder why he was freaked out. I feel like I’ve seen an episode of his PTSD coming out. I can only imagine what it’s like to live with that. I have family members who suffer from that, but they hide it so well, just like Billy. Until this recent moment, nobody would have ever known. As a person who has suffered with a mental illness, certain things just randomly attack you. You could be fine in your world, and then BAM. It literally catches you off guard, and it’s very hard to even try to explain. Billy’s scenario is another case of why I will forever be anti-war. Nobody deserves to go through that.