Paradoxical Nature of Life Exposed in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut's apocalyptic novel, Cat's Cradle, might well be called an intricate network of paradox and irony. It is with such irony and paradox that Vonnegut himself describes his work as "poisoning minds with humanity...to encourage them to make a better world" (The Vonnegut Statement 107). In Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut does not tie his co-mingled plots into easy to digest bites as the short chapter structure of his story implies. Rather, he implores his reader to resolve the paradoxes and ironies of Cat's Cradle by simply allowing them to exist. By drawing our attention to the paradoxical nature of life, Vonnegut releases the reader from the necessity of creating meaning into a realm of infinite possibility. It appears that Vonnegut sees the impulse toward making a better world as fundamental to the human spirit; that when the obstacle of meaning is removed the reader, he supposes, will naturally improve the world.
Like a dream filled with complex characters and situations which one is compelled to discuss and analyze the next day, Vonnegut uses dark humor to penetrate his reader's world. The Cornell medical student whom the narrator, Jonah, first interviews by mail turns out to be a midget. The brilliant nuclear physicist, the father of the atom bomb, is infantile. Writers and college professors are essential to human existence, and Boko-maru is a form of love that can happen anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.
By creating new religious and scientific vocabularies, Vonnegut infiltrates the reader's very mind. Bokononist ideas and principles that are almost reasonable give the reader a temporary framework for interpretation, "'As it was supposed to happen,' Bokonon would say" (Cat's Cradle 63). Never too far from reality, "Bokonon tells us that it is very wrong to not to love everyone exactly the same. What does your religion say?" (CC 141). Vonnegut's prophet cuts close to the bone, and so he must in order to reach the philosophical roots of the reader's belief system. Yet, the security of any and every belief and interpretation of any and all of the characters is in one way or another polluted until there is nowhere to turn.
In documents one and two they explain and evaluate the trading system and routes of the African empires, kingdoms, and cities. Document one shows the layout of the Aksum trade center and the routes which lead to and from it. Aksum is an empire located right by the Red Sea, its location made it an important international trading center. African trade centers mainly focused on the exchanges of salt and gold. Since the red sea ports are controlled by the rea sea and Aksum was located right by it, its locations made it the center of the trade center. However, in document two it describes the trans-Saharan gold and salt trade. The trans-Saharan gold and salt trade was controlled by the rich and powerful Ghana kingdom. The king had shields
Kurt Vonnegut writes pessimistic novels, or at least he did back in the sixties. Between Slaughterhouse Five, Mother Night, and Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut paints a cynical and satirical picture of the degradation of society using distortion as the primary means to express himself. In Cat's Cradle, the reader is confronted with the story of the narrator, John, as he attempts to gather material to write a book on the human aspect of the day Japan was bombed. As the story progresses, he finds that becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish reality from illusion. He meets up with a midget, a dictator, and a nation's object of lust as his journey progresses, and he eventually ends up the sole leader of a remote island and witnesses the end of the world. Using implausible stories and unbelievable characters and situations to convey his message, Vonnegut's utilization of literary distortion allows him to move the reader and prove his point in a far greater way than he could by just blatantly shouting his opinions. "Anyone unable to understand how useful a religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either"(16), states the narrator, concerning Cat's Cradle. Throughout the text, Vonnegut uses the religion of Bokononism, which is a fictitious faith founded on the basis of deception, to establish that people can prosper and be happy under false beliefs. When two men founded the island nation of San Lorenzo, Cat's Cradle's model for society, it was...
Kurt Vonnegut, critically acclaimed author of several best-selling novels, uses self-expression and psychological manipulation to stress to the reader his beliefs and ideas dispersed within the context of Cat's Cradle. From reading this novel, one might attribute perplexity pondering over the plot and general story line of the book. Cat's Cradle entangles itself in many interesting changes of events; strange outlandish ideas and psychological "black holes" can be found with just the flip of a page.
...e and what he saw made him more optimistic. Or maybe it was all due to copious consumption of the “little pill[s]” he takes to “cheer up” (Vonnegut, Breakfast of… 4). Even Vonnegut might not know for certain. All that can be said with confidence is that Vonnegut’s idea of truth evolved between Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, just like the theories and concepts of physics do even now. In the end, so too must all human knowledge die and be reborn. As Vonnegut might say (Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse… 34), “So it goes.”
Throughout his career, Kurt Vonnegut has used writing as a tool to convey penetrating messages and ominous warnings about our society. He skillfully combines vivid imagery with a distinctly satirical and anecdotal style to explore complex issues such as religion and war. Two of his most well known, and most gripping, novels that embody this subtle talent are Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. Both books represent Vonnegut’s genius for manipulating fiction to reveal glaring, disturbing and occasionally redemptive truths about human nature. On the surface, Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five are dramatically different novels, each with its own characters, symbols, and plot. However, a close examination reveals that both contain common themes and ideas. Examining and comparing the two novels and their presentation of different themes provides a unique insight into both the novels and the author – allowing the reader to gain a fuller understanding of Vonnegut’s true meaning.
He decided to improve the status of his land on his arrival from a pilgrimage from Mecca in 1324. Furthermore, he transformed his trading city of Timbuktu to a center of learning and religion and built a mass, which set a new style of architecture in West Africa. “Caravans of Gold” underlines the importance of Timbuktu because it concentrated on African scholarship, politics, teaching theology, and Islamic law. Timbuktu was a significant place in Africa during this time because it became a market right after and made a profit for the region. Likewise, it was a religious, cultural, and profitable center whose people traveled north across the Sahara through Morocco and Algeria to other parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. According to The History of Africa, “Because of his devotion to Islam, Mansa Musa strengthened Islam and promoted education, trade, and commerce in Mali” (Asante, 2014, pg. 135). It was a successful center for the trans-Saharan gold and salt trade and grew as the center of Islam. This statement launches the truth that Timbuktu supported Islamic values and knowledge because it was a city most well-known for the education of important scholars whose backgrounds were of Islam. Asante supports the fact that Mansa Musa was effective in reforming the city of Timbuktu and the trade in that area. Asante also states that “Musa did not forget the control of the gold and salt; it was fundamental for the
Many people grow up in loving families and cannot imagine not having their parents and siblings around, but each year, 18,000 or more American born babies are put up for adoption (Newlin Carney). That means at least 18,000 children face the harsh truth of maybe not having a family to grow up in. Childhood is a very important part of one’s life and helps shape who one is. These children that are eligible to be adopted just need loving parents, good homes, and stability. And who is to say the high price of adopting is not ho...
Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle chronicles the wanderings of a writer named John. The book, stylized as if written by John himself, tells John’s perspective of the events that lead to the end of the world at the hands of a dangerous substance named ice-nine. Initially hoping to write a book about the invention of the nuclear bomb, John instead encounters many peculiar characters, including satirical representations of the society that Vonnegut perceived around him. In his writings, John frequently details his personal set of beliefs: a religion named Bokononism. Originating from the small island nation of San Lorenzo, Bokononism is a religion practiced by a large amount of characters in the book. Unlike other religions, Bokononism is practiced very differently and contains many unorthodox beliefs. Rather than worshiping God, Bokononists are known to hold only one thing sacred -- man. The unusual beliefs that Bokononists hold may seem strange to outsiders, but as the book develops readers begin to understand more and more of what the tenets of Bokononism are, much in the same way John does throughout the story. The argument that Vonnegut presents in Cat’s Cradle is that Bokononism is the ideal tool for satisfying people’s spiritual and existential needs. Because of this,
There was also a Kingdom called Mali that broke off from the Ghana Empire. At this time they had embraced the religion of Islam and had been under the great rule of Mansa Musa. This empire had the job of protecting the caravans or shipments carrying the goods, so that they can trade. They helped towards the function of trade so that both the importer and exporter gained something. In document 3 it explains how their wealth was great because of their trade. The document also talks about the fact that they had exhibited the characteristics of an advanced divination like sufficient food to feed its people, a strong army equipped with advanced weapons and income derived from taxes. Even though the Mali Empire had wealth there was very little corruption if there was with the ruler. He did not go mad with power but he was generous. In document four it states they there was no person who did not receive a sum of gold from him.
Kurt Vonnegut said in The Vonnegut Statement (1973), in an interview with Robert Scholes, that one of his reasons for writing is "to poison minds with humanity…to encourage them to make a better world" (107). This idea works quite well in Vonnegut's book, Cat's Cradle. It is a satirical story of a man's quest to write a book about the day the world ended (refering to the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima), which he never finishes. What we get is a raw look at humans trying desperately to find a sense of purpose in their lives through different means such as religion, science, etc.
Homeless individuals are known for taking hand outs and they prefer to plead for money rather than to go work for it. People assume most of the the money that is given to homeless people they spend it on drugs and alcohol because of the fact that many homeless people have drug and alcohol addictions. It is not uncommon to come across homeless youth and older homeless population that are known to abuse substances like drugs and alcohol. Because of the fact that homeless people have substance abuse problems, they tend face illnesses and infections. Many hard working Americans ask themselves “why don’t homeless people just get jobs?” The assumption is they are just lazy and unmotivated. Homeless people choose to live the life they live. Everyone goes through problems but not all people take the path homeless people do. The problems homeless people face is not an excuse for them to be helped and maintained by other hard working people. Although homelessness might be a choice to some, no one knows the hardships these people have gone through. Some assume these people are just lazy but in reality a lot of these homeless people have jobs of their own, they just can’t afford housing and a decent life. Everyone has their own opinion on homeless people, but that does not change the fact that one should still serve the homeless. Not because homeless people need help but because we are
Vonnegut also describes the Martian Army planning a failed attack on Earth. He illustrates the soldiers on the planet as unthinking puppets forbidden by radio. In order to embed the antenna into a soldiers' intellect, one's head must be shaved and bald. Vonnegut also men tions people who are volunteers. As you can see Vonnegut's description of a soldier is quite ironic. Another significant point in the novel is Vonnegut's believe of God and other religions. He illustrates how ppl blindly and enthusiastically follow Gods and their religions and how ridiculous it is. "Boaz's home vault had a boor on it, a round boulder with which he could plug the vault's mouth" (200). For instance, he also "had slept with his door open, he would have awakened to find himself pinned down by hundreds of thousands of his admirers. They would have let him up only when his heart stopped beating" (142).
The Kingdom of Mali was an African hub of wealth, trade and education for over 225 years. Mali is an Arab version of the Mandinka word that means, “Where the king dwells”, and was vitally important in spreading trade, education, religion and culture along the Niger River. The rise of Mali into an Empire occurred in the early 13th century, when Sundiata defeated his enemies and won control of the West African gold mines. In 1312 Mansa Musa became ruler of Mali. During his reign which was known as Mali’s, “Golden Age”, he introduced Islamic beliefs to many communities along the Niger and enhanced education after his historic pilgrimage to Mecca. Mali’s rise was attributed to the Trans-Saharan Trade routes leading to and from Western and Eastern Africa. These trade routes contributed to the rise and fall of powerful African Kingdoms for hundreds of years, but for 250 years, Mali was the crown jewel of Africa.