Summary and Analysis
The four lines of poetry appearing at the beginning of Slaughterhouse-Five ("The cattle are lowing . . . ") are used thematically throughout the novel as Billy Pilgrim moves along his pilgrimage. The lyrics of the Christmas carol attest that the newborn baby does not cry. Analogous to the newborn baby is Billy: Throughout most of the wartime sections of Slaughterhouse-Five, he does not cry. Only in Chapter Nine, when he is made aware of the suffering horses perhaps an antithesis to the mooing cattle — does he cry for the first time. Later, as a civilian in Ilium, Billy cries regularly. And from lyrics in the carol that precede those of the epigraph ("Away in a manger . . . "), Vonnegut leaps across many pages and makes a connection to the American POWs, who spend the night in a stable at an inn outside of Dresden.