Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle Analysis

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  • Topic: Cat's Cradle, Bokononism, Kurt Vonnegut
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  • Published : November 19, 2012
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Ben Fisher
Mr. Anderson
AP Writing and Composition 1
14th November 2012

Cat's Cradle American Author Analysis by Ben Fisher

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut is a science fiction book that was published in 1963. The book is (falsely thought to be)centered around the narrator, John, and his quest to write a book about what was happeneing with the creators of the atomic bomb the day the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. His adventure follows his travels as he meets with researchers, the children of a fictional Dr. Felix Hoenikker, and ventures to an island nation to talk to the good doctors final son. Along this course, he explains a religion he does not yet have, as this is from a post-experience diary perspective, called Bokononism, and its practices. He gains knowledge of this religion and its creation on the island of San Lorenzo, which resolves in him becoming president. But this is a side plot of the book. The main plot, hidden in the background, is centered around a ficticious substance called Ice-Nine, with the power to freeze all the worlds oceans in the blink of an eye if it were to touch a single water source, an expression of mans' ability to destroy the things that surround him.

Cat's Cradle is set in an unknown year more than 20 years after August 6th, 1945. At the beginning, John visits Ilium, New York to talk to Dr. Asa Breed at General Forge and Foundry, the place in which Felix Hoenikker “worked”, which leads to his discovery of several key locations in the area. The later half is focused on the fictional Carribean island of San Lorenzo, an island nation started by Earl McCabe, a marine deserter, and Bokonon, born Lionel Boyd Johnson, who created Bokononism. These settings leave a sense of a tight dichotomy between modern America and the Caribbean nation of San Lorenzo. Though the concept of the book within, about the bombing of Hiroshima, and a freeze frame of the events of that day, reveals a young nation holding infinite power in a vast expanse of nothingness. The concept of San Lorenzo as a country in location is central to the happenings of the book.

To contrast this idea of self destruction is the concept of Bokononism, a religion outlawed on the island after being created by one of its founders. Christianity is the official religion, but both Protestantism and Catholicism are illegal, and every single citizen of the island celebrates Bokononism even with the threat of the “hy-u-o-ook-kuh”, representing how San Lorenzan natives pronounce the Hook, a giant fish hook that a Bokononist is threatened to be speared upon if they are caught practicing Bokononism. Though this concept is really an illusory ploy created by Bokonon and McCabe, and perpetrated by the island's leader, “Papa” Monzano, to give hope in pure foma, or harmless untruths, that form a religion that gives hope and reason instead of defining how you should live. You exist to serve the wampeter of you karass whilst avoiding granfalloons and trying to find kan-kans that leads the creation of more sinookas that lead to a procces of vin-dits. All the while you may be bothered by stuppas and pool-pah, but when you are busy, busy, busy, you will truly understand your situation, and in your zah-mah-ki-bo, you may lead yourself to think, “Now I will destroy the whole world”. All this while, you may connect to another, boko-maru will most likely lead to you finding your path.*

*Translated: In short, the book is lies. Your life is based around serving the central theme of you group (wampeter of your karass) and avoiding intermingling into false groups (granfalloons), and finding items that help your cause (kan-kans) To create tendrils to intertwine others into your life (sinookas) causing shoves towards Bokononism (vin-dits). A fogbound child (a stuppa) or a shitstorm/the wrath of God (pool-pah) may try to mislead yourself, but eventually tou will think about the complicated and unpredictable machinery of life (busy, busy, busy) and...
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