The novel, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, follows the life of Billy Pilgrim. February 13, 1945 was when the German city of Dresden was bombed, but Billy survived the awful experience. He instinctively feels incredible guilt, not understanding why he survived when so many others died. This is why Billy invents a world where life and death are meaningless and feelings of guilt disappear. This alien world is called Tralfamador and it provides Billy with an escape. After being abducted by the aliens, he learns that life is made up of moments, but once they are over they are not gone forever, and like the Traflamadorians he too can choose to ignore the unpleasant ones. Throughout the novel, Billy feels no guilt, remorse or pressures to change his future because he believes it is predetermined and cannot be changed.
Whenever there is a tragic death or an entire city is destroyed Billy says what all Tralfamdorians say, which is, "so it goes". Continuously through the story Billy says "so it goes" after encountering a death; and this, like so many other situations, he is very unemotional and inhumane. "When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "So it goes."" (34).
Billy does not feel remorse or anger when he hears of the war in Vietnam because it is just a frame in time, which has, is and always will happen. Even with the knowledge that his son, a member of the Green Berets, could potentially be killed in the war "Billy was not moved to protest the bombing of North Vietnam, did not shudder about the hideous things he himself had seen bombing do."(76) He believes the moment is established and, harsh as it may seem, Billy chooses to overlook the moment because it is unpleasant.