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CAT'S CRADLE by Kurt Vonnegut


A Novel

by Kurt Vonnegut

Pub Date: March 18th, 1963
ISBN: 038533348X
Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

The narrator is researching for his book, The Day the World Ended, when he comes up against his karass, as he later understands it through Bokononism. It leads him to investigate Dr. Hoenniker, "Father of the A-Bomb," whom his son Little Newt says was playing cat's cradle when the bomb dropped (people weren't his specialty). The good doctor left his children an even greater weapon of devastation in ice-nine, an inheritance which won his ugly daughter a handsome husband; little Newt, a Russian midget just his size for an affair that ended when she absconded with a sliver of ice-nine; and made unlikely Franklin the right hand man of Papa Monzano of San Lorenzo, a make-believe Caribbean republic. On the trail of ice-nine, the narrator comes in for Papa's death and is tapped for the Presidency of San Lorenzo. Lured by sex symbol Mona, he accepts, but before he can take office, ice-nine breaks loose, freezing land and sea. Bokonon, the aged existentialist residing in the jungle as counter to the strong man, formulates a religion that makes up for life altogether: since the natives are miserable and there is little hope for changing their lot, he takes advantage of the release of ice-nine to bring them a happy death. The narrator's karass is at last made clear by Bokonon himself, leaving him to commit a final blasphemy against whoever is up there. A riddle on the meaning of meaninglessness or vice versa in a devastation-oriented era, with science-fiction figures on the prowl and political-ologies lanced. Spottily effective.