Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut appears to be a simplistic story of a man's experiences in World War II. To many people a may be just that. When the plot is looked at closer and the word choice and phrase such as "so it goes" are analyzed it proves to have a much greater meaning and message behind it. "So it goes" is a phrase used throughout the entire book many times. This phrase shows up whenever the character Billy Pilgrim encounters death. He is basically saying that death is no big deal. Vonnegut even uses the phrase "so it goes" in the first chapter to describe himself as a "pillar of salt"(22). He calls the book a failure, this helps to support the fact that war is always a failure and that no good comes from war. The phrase "so it goes" is very important and is seen through Billy Pilgrim, Kurt Vonnegut, and the overall theme of the book is based on it. .
To help understand the phrase "so it goes", what it means, and why the character Billy Pilgrim uses it every time someone dies, we must first understand the character Billy Pilgrim. Billy is certainly slow and could be considered an idiot. Billy just goes with the flow and pretty much lets life happen to him. We are told that when Billy was a child his father teaches him how to swim by using the sink or swim method and throws Billy in the pool, and Billy as expected, sinks. Billy believes that he can become "unstuck in time" and that he can time travel to a planet called Tralfamadore. He takes on the Tralfamadore way of thinking. This is where the phrase "so it goes" actually comes from. According to Billy the Tralfamadoreians have no concept of time such as we do on earth. Billy says, "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. 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" (26,27).