Satire and Fantasy in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

Satire and Fantasy in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

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Satire and Fantasy in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle


For this essay, I decided to pick two terms that describe Cat's Cradle. I felt that satire and fantasy were two terms that suited the novel quite well. The book qualifies as a satire because it makes a mockery of things that were of concern in the sixties. For example, the Cuban missile crisis was a big issue in the early sixties. Religion was taken much more seriously, and the family unit was more tightly wound. In the novel, the threat comes not from a large warhead, but from a small crystal of Ice-nine. Religion is satired in Bokononism, which is a religion that is based on lies. The family unit is satired by the Hoenikkers. The father is detached from reality, the sister is a giant, and the brother is a midget. The Cuban threat is also satirized by San Lorenzo and it's dictator Papa Monzano.

Cat's Cradle also has many elements of fantasy woven throughout. A small crystal that can freeze water and can destroy the world and can only be stopped by a temperature of 114 degrees is a good example of the fantasy element in the novel. It gives the story an almost futuristic feel, even though by modern standards the book is dated. Jonah's whole adventure is reminiscent of mythological tales. He journeys to a far away land, San Lorenzo. He is called to adventure by Newt's letter. He finds a mystical talisman, Ice-nine. He falls in love with the beautiful maiden, Mona. The religion of Bokononism has a fantasy element to it. Johnson changes his name to Bokonon much like in Buddhism. There are all the writings in the Books of Bokonon, and the Boko-maru which are both fantastic ideas in themselves.

Cat's Cradle contains many elements of many types of genres. It could be consider...


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...t has no real motivation, and why should he when he is going to be taken care of by Angela for the rest of his life. I like Newt because he does not feel sorry for himself, and treats everything matter-of-factly and as if it is obvious, "Isn't everybody [self-taught]?" Newt appears to be a person who does not care what everyone else thinks and always strives to be an individual.

I think that the satire alone in Cat's Cradle is enough to encourage humanity to make a better world. Vonnegut makes things seem funny in the book that really are not funny in real life, such as an atom bomb, a father who ignores his child and everyone else, and an island where people are hung for practicing a certain religion. The book is amusing, but it made me think about what the world would be like if it really was that way. It would be horrible, and definitely nothing to laugh at.

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