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.
However, Vonnegut purposely uses this technique. It takes an open-minded reader to comprehend the intricate and explicit meaning behind Vonnegut's literature. Vonnegut wrote Cat's Cradle, not for the plot, but more as an outlet for his psychological viewpoints. This is exemplified with the opening line "Call me Jonah" (Vonnegut 11). The line is a parody of the first line of Melville's most-famous Moby Dick. Literary critic Peter Reed points out that "it is characteristic that Vonnegut's speaker should be a Jonah, who does in effect get swallowed by the whale, rather than a whale-hunting Ishmael" (Reed 124). If the reader was to examine the use of this line, he would recognize that Vonnegut's intent and purpose is not to provide a reasonable and serious plot. If one does not realize this while reading, he is overwhelmed by symbols and characters whose only true purpose is to further express the author's ideas.
The novel does, however have a plot. First we meet our narrator, Jonah. Jonah intends to right a book called The Day the World Ended which is to be about events in the lives of well known in...
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...ader continues to comprehend, expecting to find out what these "symbols" represent, Vonnegut plants sub-concious ideas that eventually take effect. To put it simply, Cat's Cradle might be considered a "thinking-novel".
Vonnegut's excellent technique and unique style are unbelievably powerful. The thought-provoking text and incredibly-well developed characters are not to be forgotten either. It would be an understatement to say that Cat's Cradle is a commendable literary work. Vonnegut has certainly composed a masterpiece to be unforgotten and talked about for years to come.
Reed, Peter J. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Writers for the 70's). New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1972
Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat's Cradle. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1963.
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