So it goes.



Your task today is to create two epitaphs that capture the “life lessons” of a literary and historical character. The epitaph to the left comes from the novel:


A crazy thought now occurred to Billy. The truth of it startled him. It would make a good epitaph for Billy Pilgrim—and for me, too. (155)


What crazy thought now occurs to you?
What statement, or epitaph, that captures the essential life lesson of a character from the novel and an historical figure, can you conjure?


Working in pairs, design two tombstones (one for each figure).





On the front, write your epitaph


On the back, select a text that illuminates why you’ve identified this as a meaningful epitaph; choose either a passage from the novel, or a historical text.


For the literary character, you may use:

·         a passage from Slaughterhouse-Five

·         a historical text


For the historical figure, you  may use

·         a passage from Slaughterhouse-Five

·         a historical text


(The literary character may not necessarily be explored by a literary passage and vice versa—choose a textual support that is most meaningful in terms of illustrating your original “lesson”).



Literary Characters

Historical Figures

Billy Pilgrim

Kurt Vonnegut

Roland Weary

Paul Lazarro

Kilgore Trout

Edgar Derby

Howard W. Campbell, Jr.

Valencia Merble


Montana Wildhack

“Wild Bob”

Eliot Rosewater

Bertram Copeland Rumfoord

“The Three Musketeers”

Mary O’Hare

Bernard V. O’Hare

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Adolf Hitler

Winston Churchill

Josef Stalin

The London resident

The Dresden resident

Robert Capa

Eugene Sledge

A Tuskegee Airman

A Rosie the Riveter


A Detroit resident

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

An enlisted service person at Pearl Harbor

Paul Tibbits

An American Jew



As a finishing touch, choose your own iconography to top your tombstone. Vonnegut has chosen a cherub, what will you choose?