Have you noticed that whenever Kurt Vonnegut mentions a death or something that has a negative outlook, he usually follows it up by saying the phrase "So it goes"? Well, the first time when he says it, it doesn’t really get to your head. But then, as you read along, you notice he repeats himself from time to time, throughout the chapter. There’s more than to it just being three words. He says it with meaning and reason to it. It really shows that "So it goes," is another way of saying, that bad things that occur should be accepted, because there is nothing that could be done to change it.
You already know that by reading the first couple of lines of the novel, the chapter is going to be a quite gloomy one. He starts out talking about the stupid reasons why people were killed in Dresden, and then he follows up by talking about the people he grew up with throughout his life. One important one is Bernard O’Hare, who grew up with Vonnegut during the war. For a fact this guy has been through a whole lot. He survived the bombing and “his mother was incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm. So it goes.”(2) He says it right then and there. He said it, the moment he mentioned the death of O’Hare’s mother. Why does he say it? He says it because though it was tragic, what’s done is done.
Another good example of a place in the book where Vonnegut mentions “So it goes,” is when he’s describing a character, whom he gave the name “Paul Lazzaro.” From the first chapter, there isn’t enough information that is given to judge his character or his persona. However, it is mentioned by the author that Lazarro “had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on. He had taken these from dead people in the cellars of Dresden. So it goes.”(6) What kind of a person is going to illegally take possessions of dead people? I would say “ignorant.” However, if stealing is what it takes to survive and make some money, I can say why the fellow did it. It goes to show that it’s just too bad that these people died and that if somebody needs to take their things to help themselves, then so be it….so it goes.
There were also some parts, where it should have been necessary to say it, but for some reason Vonnegut chose not to. He told a professor for the University of Chicago about his experience of the raid during the bombing. The professor responded to him by talking about the concentration camps; saying “how the Germans had made soap and candles out of the fat of dead Jews.”(10) Vonnegut knew what he was saying, because he went through it all. At that point, it would have been the perfect moment for “so it goes” to follow up, because the topic was what happened after the Jews were killed.
Another part where the phrase would have made a lot of sense to add on to was when Vonnegut was explaining the Children’s Crusade. “The Children’s Crusade started in 1213, when two monks got the idea of raising armies of children in Germany and France, and selling them in North Africa. Thirty thousand children volunteered, thinking they were going to Palestine.” (16) That would have been the perfect time to say it, because he’s talking about the horrible fate thirty thousand children had coming for them. Sadly, nobody knows what happened to them, but for sure, they never went to Palestine like they all thought they would.
That was a story that definitely could have influenced Kurt to write this book. Another story which Kurt found interesting was the story of the fire and the pillar of salt, from the Gideon bible. The story is of a woman whose town is on fire and she runs away, given the demand by God to run and not look back. She disobeys, and what happens? She “was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” (22) There he goes again. Why did he say it? Well, just maybe if the woman would have never looked back, she’d still be running for her life. Because she didn’t listen, she suffered the consequences and that was it. What’s done is done.
Basically, “So it goes” is simply another way for saying, “And that’s how the cookie crumbles, that’s just the way it is, that’s just the way things work,” etc. There are so many ways to look at it. I knew that after noticing the second time Vonnegut said it, it would be quite major throughout the rest of the novel. It had so much more to it than just being three words. It meant something deeper, because when you really look deeper than what’s written on paper, your mind opens up and you see things that you couldn’t see before.
SALT.jpg<--Painting of the story from the Gideon Bible, of Lot's wife turning to a pillar of salt for her disobediance to God.

CHILDRENS_CRUSADA.jpg<--Children's Crusade

CANDLES.jpg<-- To think that candles in Germany, at the time, were once made from the fat of dead Jews.
ist2_186770_jeweled_christmas_tree.jpg<--If you have to take the gems for your survival, even if it is taking them from it's dead owners, then so be it...right?