Cat's Cradle Book review

Essay by hyaliteUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2009

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“I wanted all things, to seem to make some sense, so we all could be happy, yes, Instead of tense. And so I made up lies. So that they all fit nice, and I made this sad world. A par-a-dise.”(82-83)This is a short poem from the Books of Bokonon in the novel Cat’s Cradle. In my opinion, this poem pointed out what Vonnegut want to express in the novel which is the conflict and problem between the religion and Science in out societies today. Cat's Cradle is a fictional story on how the world met its end. The narrator of book is John who wants to write a book titled The Day the World Ended which is about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. From his research, he found out that one of the fathers of the atomic bomb Felix Hoenikker, actually created an isotope of water named ice-nine.

And this is the thing that ended John’s world by freeze all the water in the sea. After the disaster, only several people survived which included John. Therefore, John actually wrote the story on what happened by ice nine and how his world end which is the book Cat’s Cradle.

Before going into the detail of the theme, I want to talk about the title of the book. People usually question on how Cat’s Cradle related to the end of the world, they are two totally different things. Therefore, first, we should try to understand what cat’s cradle means before try to find out the relationship between them. The word Cat’s Cradle is coming from a children’s game that involves making a series of X’s with a string by hand. In the story, when John ask Newt what did he know about his father Felix. Newt told him that all he can remember after he grew up is that when he was playing with his toy trucks, his father was playing cat's cradle with a piece of string. And Newt describes the game briefly by saying "No damn cat, and no damn Cradle"(114). I think what Vonnegut wants to show to people is that not only the game, but also the life itself, in essence, are really meaningless. And that is why the world of Cat's Cradle is a world searching for a sense of meaning and purpose.

In my opinion, a main success in the book is that Vonnegut actually created a religion in his novel, the Bokonism, founded by a man named Bokonon. The first sentence of The Books of Bokonon is "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies," (14) and the narrator warns the reader, "Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either" (14). In the book, Bokonism wants to tell people that our world is where the truth is death and lies are paradise. First, Bokonon realizes that life has no meaning, but he also realizes that he can make people happy by just telling them lies and tell them that life has a meaning and purpose. “‘Everything must have a purpose?’ asked God. ‘Certainly,’ said man. ‘Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,’ said God. And He went away.” The reason our world and our lives are full of lies is that people want to hear them. We always search for the meaning of life, but the life is meaningless without lies. What Vonnegut wants to point out from the religion he created is that foma, the harmless untruths, allow people to enjoy their meaningless life. Like most of the religions, Bokononism is created based on lies, but unlike those religions, it uses those lies to make people happier (Lustbader). In Vonnegut’s writing, he created Bokonism, a false religion to exposes the major weakness in most religions in the real world, which is that they are based on lies, but pretend to pass off them as truth, to give people something to believe, and find meaning in.

Besides the Religion he created in the story. Vonnegut is also a genius on using the Black humor on the theme. First of all, we should try to understand what black humor is. According to the definition, black humor is “the juxtaposition of morbid and farcical elements (in writing or drama) to give a disturbing effect” ( But from an easy way of understanding, we can also say that black humor often makes fun at the subjects that considered deadly serious. Like what we have in the book which are the use of religion which is Bokonism and the use of science the creation of ice-nine. Just like what I said earlier, people are always searching the meaning of their life. However, science can not give them all the meaning that they are looking for, so they turn to the religion and try to find a meaning in it. At the end of the book, Bokonon the founder of the Bokonism was half freeze by ice-nine after the disaster, and he said: "I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who"(179). Once again, Vonnegut pointed out that we find nothing but "junk and lies and idiocy"(Cupitt) in our life. Therefore, instead of crying on all the lies we have, laughing at them is even more powerful. Laughing at the lies in the religions, laughing at the scentific invention like the nuclear weapon that finally destroy the world, the use of black Humor that running through the novel is just like the “tangle of strings in a cat's cradle”(Cupitt).

In conclusion, I talked about the theme and the title for the story, the religion that the author created and the black humor writing technique that he used through the book. Cat’s Cradle is a novel full of Jokes that talking about serious topic in our societies and make up our lives. This is not only a book we can laugh at, but also a book that we should think deeply.

Work CitedCupitt, Cathy . "Black Humour and Cat's Cradle." Cathy's Homepage 1998 .

Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat's Cradle. New York, N.Y: Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1998.

Lustbader, Steve . "Vonnegut’s Simplicity in Cat's Cradle."Marek Vit's Kurt Vonnegut Corner .