Vonnegut’s intriguing story of a writer sent to San Lorenzo pits science and truth against religion and lies. The few characters of Cat’s Cradle illustrate one trait or the other, with John, the main character and “writer” of the memoir which is the book, observing and attempting to understand each point of view. As John learns of San Lorenzo’s banned religion, Bokononism, and explores the lives of the scientists responsible for the atomic bomb and a new, dangerous, chemical called Ice-nine, he finds himself searching for his reason of living as well. Through John’s character, Vonnegut exemplifies this theme of an overall search for moral structure and a purpose for life.
In order to organize the development of the theme, Vonnegut begins his novel by creating a sense of pointlessness for the characters to build off of, a blank slate. Newt, the son of Felix Hoenikker, who was the creator of the Atomic Bomb and Ice-nine, creates this mood in his description of the yarn game “Cat’s Cradle”. He asks John to point out the cat and cradle in the yarn formation, which he obviously can’t; Vonnegut is commenting on humanity’s attempts to find meaning where no meaning exists. It is with this notion in mind that John begins his exploration of science and religion.
Science is John’s first stop in his search for purpose. The author points out that in scientist’s desperate search for truth, which seems to be the only thing with importance, they aren’t intelligent enough to realize that the “truth” is given a false connotation. In the Hoenikker’s case, the “truth” was the basis for millions of people being killed by the atomic bomb and the end of the world through Ice-nine. So, truth is rejected as innately good, which leaves John with nothing but lies and religion.
However, in San Lorenzo, lies and religion are a good combination. John is introduced to Bokononism when he gets his hands on a copy of The Books of Bokonon. The basis of this religion is that...
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