Cat’s Cradle- Kurt Vonnegut
A calypso singer with his own original theology, a man who helped develop the atomic bomb and a midget provide the backdrop for an apocalyptic look at the world’s future in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle.” This book manages to be both humorous and frightening at the same time, as Vonnegut envisions the world’s fate as carelessness and stupidity threaten our very existence.
The story starts with the narrator beginning research for a book on where important people were the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. This leads him to the late Felix Hoenikker, a key researcher in the bomb’s development, and his three children. These children introduce the narrator to the island of San Lorenzo, where he learns about and converts to Bokononism, a religion that holds nothing but man sacred.
This book looks at and analyzes key issues in society such as religion, family, government, war and science, and what values we place on each. Vonnegut maintains his signature outrageousness and humor throughout the book, but these aspects underscore a darker purpose. He makes us look at his future view of society in light of our current reality, as ineptitude in powerful positions poses an increasing threat to the safety of others.
Perhaps Bokonon summed up Vonnegut’s message best when he describes man’s role in initiating his own destruction in this “Calypso.”
“Someday, someday, this crazy world will have to end,
And our God will take things back that He to us did lend.
And if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God,
Why just go ahead and scold Him. He’ll just smile and nod.”