Throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, he uses the phrase “and so it goes” multiple times. He also says in his first chapter that he considers his novel to be an anti-war book. I think he uses the main character, Billy Pilgrim because he is trying to show how war can have an effect on people. In this case, the effects the war had on pilgrim may not be so obvious or violent when we think of soldiers coming home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In other words, he’s trying to make sense of war and uses the term “and so it goes” as a way to show that the world around them goes on while they are suffering throughout the war.
Pilgrim is considered the protagonist in this story probably because he is the least aggressive compared to Weary. Pilgrim is passive when it comes to events the event during the war. It’s obvious that he is reluctant to be fighting in World War Two, which would make sense since the book was written in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. It was a time when Americans were burning their draft cards and had an overall distain for the U.S. military and the war. While Pilgrim was oversees, he encountered many different near death experiences that would typically leave a normal person emotionally scared for years on end. Instead, he could care less when a bullet barely misses his kneecaps. I think that this could be connected to the amount of soldiers that come back from war with mental illnesses and eventually commit suicide because they’ve lost and will to live.
This attitude –what some might call apathy– can also be seen when he is referring to events that happen just after the war. He talks about events in his life such his wife dying a traumatic death and his plane crash that left him the only survivor just how I would tell anyone about my normal day. But maybe it’s not apathy. This could be because Pilgrim had seen the worst of the worst throughout the war and became desensitized to tragedy. This is why I think the term, “so it goes,” will always follow any near death experiences throughout the book. He has seen the worst in the world and he knows that life will go on despite the tragic events.