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On Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

  I’ve been interested in reading some of Vonnegut’s work since last year, but because of the incredible amount of schoolwork I signed up for in high school, what with AP and IB classes, I wasn’t able to finish Cat’s Cradle until this week.  However, now that I have, I also have the desperate need to talk about it.  Hence this blog!  

First, a brief summary in case you haven’t read this book yet.  I’m going to warn you that there should be a moderate spoiler alert here, because I do give away the ending, but by the time you get to the ending in the novel, it’s not really that much of a surprise.  Anyway, the story begins with a narrator who introduces himself as a Jonah, born John.  Although he is the narrator, and the novel follows his journey through life, he plays a minor role in actual events, working more as a source of commentary than action.  The plot starts out with John doing research for a book he never finishes, one that was meant to be an accurate account of what important people were doing on the day Hiroshima was bombed.  This introduces the peculiar family of the Hoenikkers: within the context of the novel, Felix Hoenikker was one of the fathers of the atomic bomb.  John eventually sets aside his manuscript-in-progress, never to return to it, but continues on in life and eventually ends up on the island of San Lorenzo.  Incidentally, the three Hoenikker children all end up on the island as well.  Here, John becomes familiar with the manufactured religion of Bokononism, and eventually converts to it.  Ultimately, as shocking events transpire, he discovers the members of his karass, the Bokonon word for a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God’s will, as well as his wampeter, the central point or purpose of a karass.  But then, of course, comes the end of the world. 

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