The Role of Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle

The Role of Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle

Length: 631 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Role of Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle


"I've narrowed comedy down to two words: clown and
farts. Because first it makes you laugh, and then it makes
you think." Dave Attell's joke comes remarkably close to
describing exactly what it is that Kurt Vonnegut is able to
do with his writing. First, he makes his readers laugh, and
then he forces them to think. By employing such humorous
devices as irony and satire, Vonnegut is able to bring humor
to a less-than-humorous subject.

Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's novel about the day the
world ended. Why, then, is it so full of jokes? By making it
so, Vonnegut makes it easier for himself to get his point
across. Rather than making the book a crusade against
science or religion, he instead creates a light-hearted look
at people themselves. By seeing the characters in the book
and laughing at them, he is forcing us also to laugh at
ourselves.

By openly criticizing one religion or another, Vonnegut
feared he would have alienated a potential audience or
created some discomfort. Rather than offend anyone, then
- or perhaps rather to offend everyone equally - he instead
created Bokononism, using aspects of all religions, and
exaggerating them to the point of absurdity. Though we may
laugh at the Bokononists, at the same time we realize that
there are certain truths in the creed. In this manner,
Vonnegut gets his audience to think about themselves and the
follies of their own religions.

Another important part of the book is the constant
"tirade" against science. Jonah's writing makes it evident
that he finds all scientists to be cruel, cold, and
unfeeling. At the same time, Vonnegut paints the scientists
in a humorous light by employing such techniques as Dr.
Breed's scolding of Miss Faust, in which he proudly
proclaims how long it's been since a fatal accident.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Role of Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Oct 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=19250>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle I believe that Vonnegut uses Cat's Cradle as an allegorical tale about what will happen to the world if we are not careful with technology that has the ability to end life on this planet. He points out one of the qualities of humanity; that people make mistakes, thus poisoning our minds and encouraging a better world. One of the obvious ways that Vonnegut uses this book to "encourage a better world" would be by showing that the end of world may come from an accidental release of technology....   [tags: Allegorical Tales Technology Essays]

Research Papers
1195 words (3.4 pages)

Black Humor in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Black Humor in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle       The phrase Black Humor has the broad meaning of poking "fun at subjects considered deadly serious or even taboo by some"2. This definition is simple, and yet embodies an important idea that is often lost in more complex definitions: the idea that Black Humor can actually be "fun", and provoke laughter. This is not, of course, the only important aspect of the term, and I shall explore some of the other important defining features of Black Humor before moving on to discuss its use in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle3....   [tags: Cat's Cradle Essays]

Free Essays
3853 words (11 pages)

Satire, and Black Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Satire, and Black Humor in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut was written in 1963. "It is a satirical commentary on modern man and his madness" (back cover). It is a book that counters almost every aspect of our society. As well as satire, Vonnegut also includes apocalyptic elements in this novel. Satire, "the use of irony, sarcasm, or ridicule in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice or folly" (Webster 1193), is very prevalent in Cat's Cradle. Vonnegut hits on many aspects of human life with this satire....   [tags: Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle]

Research Papers
698 words (2 pages)

Satire, Surrealism and Dark Humor in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Satire, Surrealism and Dark Humor in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle "And there on the shaft in letters six inches high, so help me God, was the word: Mother" (48) "'If that's mother,' said the driver, 'what in hell could they have raised over father?'" As the reader soon finds out, 40 cm of marble, as directed by Felix Hoenikker's will, that says "FATHER" (49). Vonnegut stops you short and plucks at your hand like a little boy who has just shaved the cat and can't wait to show you what he's done: you can't, as a responsible adult, laugh at the absurdity of the bald and shivering feline because you know that you should be astonished, offended, annoyed, anything but burst out laughing, which yo...   [tags: Vonnegut Cat's Cradle]

Free Essays
555 words (1.6 pages)

Essay about The Satire of Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle

- The Satire of Cat's Cradle       Cat's Cradle is, "Vonnegut's most highly praised novel. Filled with humor and unforgettable characters, this apocalyptic story tells of Earth's ultimate end, and presents a vision of the future that is both darkly fantastic and funny, as Vonnegut weaves a satirical commentary on modern man and his madness" (Barnes and Noble n.pag).  In Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut uses satire as a vehicle for threatened self-destruction when he designs the government of San Lorenzo.  In addition, the Bokonists practice of Boko-maru, and if the world is going to end in total self destruction and ruin, then people will die, no matter how good people are and what religion peop...   [tags: Cat's Cradle Essays]

Research Papers
1004 words (2.9 pages)

Possibilities for a Better World Essay

- Possibilities for a Better World The picture painted of the world and humanity by Kurt Vonnegut in Cats' Cradle is not a positive one. It is not the utopia that so many of the novel's character's are striving for. It is a ridiculous world where truths are based on lies and the balance of good and evil is a manufactured state. If Vonnegut's attempt is to "poison minds with humanity… to encourage them to make a better world," it is only through showing the reader the follies of man, the foolishness we live with daily, that maybe we can change our outlook and make a "better world." Within the 191 pages of Cat's Cradle Vonnegut manages to slam nearly every mode of life, every motivating facto...   [tags: Kurt Vonnegut Cats' Cradle Essays]

Free Essays
1194 words (3.4 pages)

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- 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....   [tags: Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle Essays]

Free Essays
424 words (1.2 pages)

Postmodernist Features in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Postmodernist Features in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Cat's Cradle is a book, which enables many points for literary discussions. One possible topic of them could be the postmodernist features in this book. In this examination Ihab Hassan's essay "Toward a Concept of Postmodernism" was used as a source of secondary literature for defining of postmodernist features. The most visible and prevalent features are postmodernist metonymy, treatment of the character, dynamic tension, anarchy and a postmodernist look at religion as a whole....   [tags: Cat's Cradle Essays]

Research Papers
2895 words (8.3 pages)

Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

- Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Vonnegut deals a lot with fantasy in his book, Cat's Cradle. From the beginning, he talks about the religion that he follows: Bokonism. This is not a real religion, however he has rules, songs, scriptures, and opinions of a person that practices this fantasy religion. Within his description of this religion however is black humor as well. I think that by him making up this whole religion and an entire island of people who follow it, is in a way mocking today's religion and the way that people are dedicated to their beliefs....   [tags: Vonnegut Cat's Cradle Essays]

Free Essays
374 words (1.1 pages)

Cat's Cradle Essay

- The Human Vaccination Modern medicine has proved that the best way to prevent the contraction of a disease for humans is to inject a tolerable amount of the virus into the host and let the individual's immune system build a defense capable of withstanding future invasions of the same strand. The small pox vaccination, for example, has eliminated the disease from almost every nation on Earth. But what if the disease is psychological, a way of being or state of mind rather than a physical aberration....   [tags: Cat's Cradle Vonnegut Essays]

Research Papers
914 words (2.6 pages)

Related Searches

But,
beyond the surface, Vonnegut is more cruel in his treatment
of artists. Jonah is himself a joke. A narrator that lies
outright, puts an editorial slant on the truth, and claims
to put faith into a religion based upon admitted lies, he is
ironic in and of himself. Also, anytime that an artist in
the book is placed in charge of something, it gets ruined,
examples being Jonah's apartment and San Lorenzo (and,
subsequently, the world.)

The main thrust of Vonnegut's humor seems to be toward
the idea of fate. As a writer, he has been in charge of
determining the fates for literally thousands of characters,
and seems to have the idea in perspective. From the opening
line, "Call me Jonah," to the end of the book when Bokonon
tells Jonah to make a gesture to the gods, Vonnegut uses
Herman Melville's Moby Dick as a symbol of fate. Every time
the subjec of fate is broached, especially with the Moby
Dick references, it is a joke. In fact, one of the book's
funniest scenes (at least as far as low humor is concerned)
is Jonah's discovery of Mrs. Hoenikker's grave. That scene
was probably also the single most cruel stab at Melville's
masterpiece and the ideas it represented. Vonnegut was in
this way trying to tell his readers that fate is foolish and
to put any belief into it would be absurd.

By creating entirely fictitious governments and
religions, Vonnegut is able to safely make fun of the
systems that all mankind takes seriously. In his own way, he
is forcing his readers into a glass jar and making them
fight their own method of thinking, much the same way
Franklin Hoenniker did with his insects. By looking at the
characters in Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut's audience is able to
laugh. Then, by looking at the hidden meanings and wondering
why they laughed, they are able to think.
Return to 123HelpMe.com