Nadya asked:

What does "So it goes" mean? The narrator seems to say that every time someone dies, so I was wondering what it meant.

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Mac I've thought a lot about this and I even have the phrase tattooed on my arm so my opinion doesn't matter any more than anyone else's I guess.

To me, in a nutshell, it means the inexorable universe doesn't care one whit about our lives and it's up to us to make of them what we will. Sometimes that is a pretty poor showing and sometimes it's fantastic, so it goes. Sometimes awful things happen to innocent people, so it goes. Sometimes the most beautiful things happen to awful people, so it goes. Sometimes everything works out just the way we want it to, so it goes.

I really don't know, it's just me and my mind making things up. So it goes.
Denise Fair That was what Tralfamadorians says when they see a corpse. To them, death is just a bad condition at a particular moment in one's existence, but the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Billy Pilgrim now views death the same way, as if it's just one bad moment among many other good moments, so it's not something to dwell on.
Charlotte Picton “So it goes” follows every mention of death in the novel, equalizing all of them, whether they are natural, accidental, or intentional, and whether they occur on a massive scale or on a very personal one. Also, the repetition of the phrase keeps a tally of the cumulative force of death throughout the novel, thus pointing out the tragic inevitability of death.
Nat I think, although many have said that it indicates how commonplace and even "neutral" death can be, repeating "So it goes" every time someone has died actually punctuates it and draws even more attention to it. In my reading of it, this almost seems an empathetic, even religious (like saying "Amen" at the end of a prayer) action that respects the effort of life and death. It also points out the go-ing-ness of life... in the Tralfamadorian cycle it is just one point in a continuing cycle, so it didn't just go and stop, it still goes.
Mary Daniels Here's the pertinent passage:
“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.’”
Jordyn "So it goes" means life goes on. As the author states it the book, it is in fact an anti war book and interpret the use of the satirical motif to represent how war has taken something such as death, which is so drastic and made it so meaningless.
Zsak Long Shit happens............................................................................................
Christia It is like saying, "What will be, so be it" and "whatever happens happens, whether there be a thing as fate or not."
james wells I am a unique position to answer this as my grandmother was from french and Irish. She constantly said this when people died, or something bad happens. She would say, "Oh, i burned the bread. So it goes. or, oh, grandmother died, so it goes.
I asked her why she said this, and she said well, when you cannot do anything about it, so it goes.
My dad and I both say it, and to me it means "eff it". Usually we say it when we give up and call someone else to take care of it (like a contractor to fix the plumbing), Or when someone we don't like wins the white house.
I forgot to mention, that in french "So it goes" translates to "se la vive." Google says something else (You live it), but in my mind it means, "Such is life."
Terry Wrong I like how many people here read different nuances, shapes and impact of the same sentence.
Josie it was explained by the tralfamadorians: humans aren't given a chance to choose our fate and free will, so we may as well just accept life for how it is.
Skyler Kurt Vonnegut’s character, Billy Pilgrim, has been burdened by the war, and is unstuck in time, and because of that he experiences deaths of hundreds, including friends, enemies, and even himself, which may have possibly changed him to be less-affected by death, and to just say “So It Goes,” and really not care and move on.
However, I believe that this headstrong acceptance of death may be the opposite of simply showing how Billy is able to toughen up. Rather, it can be interpreted as a concealment his inner turmoil of never ever being able to accept another’s death. Just because one experiences more deaths in one’s lifetime, does not ultimately mean that one becomes less and less affected by it. Thus, I believe “So It Goes” may not be meant literally, rather it can be seen as a sort of protection mechanism for Billy to secure himself. In that way, He may be accepting, and moving on from the fact that death is inevitable for everyone, and that he can do nothing about it. But, I would say that he is internally still very vulnerable in the aspect of moving on from the pain of death. He may be acting tough by outwardly saying “So It Goes,” but it can still be a way for Billy to manage the pain of reality for himself.

True, the quotes are mentioned every time after one dies. Still, I believe that “So It Goes” not only reveal Billy’s acceptance of death, but basically the acceptance of losing control in everything. Quite literally for Billy, he is unstuck in time, he has been abducted by aliens, and that by itself shows how he has no control of his life what so ever. So, his life is presented as something uncontrollable, something he cannot even hope or dare to change. And in this way, Kurt Vonnegut’s “So It Goes” can be accepted as a philosophical commentary. A belief that one ultimately lacks free will in life, death, events, and everything that happens in one’s life. One must simply accept it and roll with it. One must go on.

Building on from the last one, the lack of control in Billy’s life can be interpreted as a political statement as well. “So It Goes” can be a criticism against humanity by highlighting the brutality of those who do not care about deaths. Some war-enthusiasts may say, Hundreds died already, if one more died, who cares, life happens, it is fate, there is a bigger cause. However, Vonnegut believes that war itself is a loss for any side. And in that way, Billy’s lack of control in his life and the war itself, may be paralleling the lack of power for any basic individual to make the deaths, the violence stop, even though it affects every individual in a negative way. Therefore, Kurt Vonnegut may be sarcastically mocking war enthusiasts by mimicking what they say in their totally inhumane manners: “So It Goes”
Netti Vonnegut's parents were German. Translated literally into German, "So it goes" is "So geht's" - and that is a very, very, common phrase to comment fatalistically on things one can't change or can't prevent to happen. "That's life".
Olekingcole I would say if you replace "it" with "life" the narrator says "So life goes" as in all life ends in death.
Iris That's life. It is a fatalistic remark
Rapti Gupta To put it as blatantly and simply - he was narrating the story. That's why.

When you're telling someone a story, literally, you punctuate with intonation. Here, I thought "so it goes" was a sort of punctuation. "So it goes" in its simplest form, was just narration-relief. At least that's what I like to call it.

It was to remind the reader that Billy isn't the narrator, it is a third person spinning Billy's story!
Sal Noel In a way, that's life- there's nothing we can do, but I think there's a point that maybe we could do something and this defeatist attitude stinks, and that is what Vonnegut infers.
Dae These overly simple words follow horrific short stories/instances. It highlights the indifference with which we treat death. It also shows the desensitization of the characters and humans in general by implying that random death (even in unnecessary circumstances) is a casual part of life.
Sarah It is said a lot of other times too and some are quite mundane. It's used to cut off a tangent/subplot, sometimes even before getting into it. It's there to simulate the experience of a live storytelling and the idea of a narrator telling a sliver of a much larger story. When people die I get the impression that he would like to epilogize for each of them, but he realises that it's rather irrelevant to the plot so he just says "so it goes" as if to say "that's a story for another time".
Brooke He says "so it goes" every time he mentions that someone died. I think it means that death is inevitable no matter how important you were or what you did in life.
Elizabeth I read "So it goes" as a sort of sigh of resignation.
Chris Vanjonack
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
DeeRae Billy knows the outcome can't be changed. He learned this from the Tralfamadorians who know even they can't change their own destruction of everything.
Keith Henderson Like Sal Noel, I think Vonnegut is using this to call our attention, to have an inverse effect compared to the ostensible meaning of the phrase. "So it goes" says that death is inevitable, that suffering just happens, man. But this is an anti-war novel, a peacenik piece. "So it goes" marks all the tragedy and sorrow that we should be trying to prevent.
Tony Kessler For me this has always meant a sarcastic comment for It can't be helped. The Japanese have the same thought, Shigatgani.
PPL This is a book about death (people/city).
1. It's a smart way to point out every time there is death in the book. Even when you get tired of reading it, it stops you and let you remind you that death happened.
2. In war life is not unique, it's a number in a lottery. The relation between reason and effect (death) seems a lot of the times circumstantial. "shit happens" just means that the decision was outside of your zone of control.
3. For me it felt like a recurring joke, just to lighten the mood. The sentence borders an absurdity after a while.
Karl Braungart
'So it goes." That's the way it is, based upon the outcome of any sort of matter, or conclusion.
Rock Conner "So it goes" is an acceptance, almost, "So THAT's how this turns out." A Calvinist might say, "And thus is God's will."
Dominic Hills Its an English idiom other ways of saying it would be "that's the way life is" or "it is what it is". essentially its a way of saying its out of my hands its happened we can't change it and now we must carry on.
کزہ Kizza for me it's better version of "it is what it is"
Elise Today, we say "it is what it is." :)
Joseph It means, c'est la vie, and or, "so it goes."
MAUREEN N This phrase is a constant throughout the book. It caught my attention as I was reading, and I realized Vonnegut uses it when the situation is so hopeless or at the point of death. At first, I thought it was just his style of talking or writing in his nonchalant way, but the fact that it appears in very similar scenarios made it no coincidence. What comes in my mind when I read, “so it goes” is – "whatever, life moves on regardless." It makes me think of a person who has seen life, the worst of the worst and has no will to live, just like Billy Pilgrim. “So it goes”, - like this is not a big deal, death is not a big deal, I have seen death at war and this is nothing kind of vibe. “So it goes”, feels like it is sort of equalizing death, or gives death zero magnitude. It also has some sort of irony. Vonnegut is describing death, which normally, we expect a person to show some sympathy or some feelings in such times of tragedy, but typical Vonnegut brushes off the idea of death/tragedy with, “whatever man, that’s life, beat it” – or “So it goes.”
Theo There's obviously a lot of interpretations about that motif, but for me I think the most interesting is "so the story goes." Since one of Slaughterhouse-Five's main themes is the deconstruction of what's really true with regards to literature and the logic of story telling, using so it goes as a way of hinting that it may not exactly be true fits. This interpretation is also backed up by the idea that the Tralfamadorians view humans as one long lifetime, so just because someone dies now in the story doesn't mean they're actually dead. Just dead in the story.
David My belief is that he says it after every death to the point where you become desensitized. And that is the point. The brutality of war and pointlessness of early death become dismissed with a "So it goes." It is shocking in its understatement.
Charlene "As it has been so it will always be." At least that's my take on it. aka: "c'est la vie".
Hayden Think of it as a metronome. A timing of dramatic moments, Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Ten thousand deaths are the same as Billy finding shoes that fit him
Joe Pace I think it has three meanings, depending on context:
- "sh** happens, even to good people"
- "so they say" (especially when recounting some far-fetched occurrence)
- it's inevitable because that is they way life is.
Yahmose I think I'm rather late but I suppose the repetition is significant when it's considered within its own context. I think it refers to the trauma of the author/narrator. Bearing in mind that the narrator asserts that he was with Pilgrim, we may see that having witnessed a lot of people's death has traumatised him. As such, when he has to talk about it, he simply disregards the ultimate fact. Furthermore, the narrator employs the phrase when referring to orders given to soldiers. Thus, the say expresses the superficiality of the system the characters have been raised by, living in, and supposed to maintain.
G L Such is life, that's life, so it goes, c'est la vie. In other words, the world continues to go on with or without us. Life goes on.
Eugene Moses I've never understood why the saying isn't known as "and so on," which is the phrase he most commonly uses in transitions from certain topics. "And so on" always seemed to be his saying to me, since it's a phrase he uses in basically every chapter of each of his books. "So it goes," in comparison to "and so on" is rarely ever used in any of his books.
Joyce that's life / shit happens / what can you do

..for want of a better phrase
Rosa Because everyone will have to die eventually
Peter This expression is used by the narrator on the first page. The Tralfamadorians say this when someone dies, and therefore so does Billy, but this isn't explained till further into the book, and the narrator isn't Billy, so perhaps it has another meaning.

If I heard someone use this expression in speech, I would interpret it as "or so the story goes", which means this might not be what really happened. Perhaps this is a clue that Billy is just bonkers.
Mike Wargo In the end, death is the only guarantee in life and everything carries on after it
Daphne for me it is what the aliens say, while looking down at the humans....
Denise Fair gives the best answer, I think.
Виолета Цолова Is this anti-war novel?
Siim Koger You can't do anything about what happens. You can ignore it or live by it but you can't change it.
LeoFizz Essentially it is used to relate all the deaths in the book, all treated equally as simple moments that exist in time. Based on the Tralfamadorians view of time with all moments existing at once and the fact that there is no such thing as free will it relates the idea that death is just something that happens. It is a moment that we will all experience but it doesn't mean the end of our existence, It is just the only moment that is certain for every living being.
Greg I think it means "have a shot" or "take a pill" (there has to be a reason Vonnegut references" Valley of the Dolls") or "take a puff" (the author does reference pot) or "pick your poison" (and lots of poisons are indeed mentioned) cause it really doesn't matter, when your time comes, it comes. Best to enjoy every minute we have! Best to not try to force the universe to bend to one's will. So, everyone, let's enjoy in our own way. Me? Way too much coffee, but that's my drug of choice.
Ivo I believe that anytime something, like a death, is mentioned that the protagonist could not have been aware of (or at least not with certainty), "and so it goes" is stated, meaning that this is something only noted by the Tralfalmadorians. Like a footnote from the omniscient narrator.
Maria Rodriguez Hertz Its kind of a ¨life goes on¨
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