The Satire of Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay
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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 people believe.
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The story of Bokonon and his religion begins with the dictator of San Lorenzo and Bokonon at first being friends, but then they decided to govern San Lorenzo by themselves. Seeing that the people are hopeless and without direction, Bokonon invents his religion, "When Bokonon and McCabe took over this miserable country year ago...they through out the priests. And then Bokonon, cynically and playfully invented a new religion" (Scholes 172). But then McCabe outlaws it and makes practicing any religion other than Christianity punishable by the deadly Hook, "Anybody caught practicing Bokononsim in San Lorenzo, will die on the Hook" (Scholes 134). All the people on the island have become devout Bokonists, and the struggle between the government and the religion keeps them entertained, and therefore alive, "Well, when it became evident that no government or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable, the religion became the one real instrument of hope. Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies" (Scholes 172). The hopeless, directionless people represent mankind as a whole and the government plot represents what Vonnegut sees as society's mindless, clear diversion from reality that keeps everyone interested in life.
An example of satire as a vehicle of self-destruction in the
Use Of Satire In Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle
Cat's Cradle: Religion and Satire
What is religion? There is no one correct answer, however, one definition that seems to cover every aspect of most established religions is, " the most comprehensive and intensive manner of valuing known to human beings" (Pecorino). In Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut takes this definition and creates his own religion in order to satirize all others. Bokononism, Vonnegut's contrived religion, is built on foma, or harmless untruths. Bokononists believe that good societies can only be built by keeping a high tension between good and evil at all times, and that there is no such thing as absolute evil (Schatt 64). They have created their own language with words such as karass, a group of people organized by God to do his work for him (Vonnegut 2), and granfalloon, a false karass (91). Kurt Vonnegut uses the Bokononist's religious scripture, The Books of Bokonon, to satirize all other holy scriptures. He also uses a Bokononist ritual, boko-maru, to mock other spiritual rituals and ceremonies. Finally, Vonnegut uses the apocalyptic ending of Cat's Cradle to scoff at many religions' beliefs in what will happen when the world ends. In Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction novel Cat's Cradle, the author uses satire to target religious themes.
The Books of Bokonon are the religious texts of Bokononism. They were originally created by two men, Lionel B. Johnson and Earl McCabe. The two men wash up on the shore of San Lorenzo, a small, corrupt, poverty-stricken island. The people, desperate for money and happiness, let the two men rule their island. However, as McCabe becomes a tyrant, the townspeople start to consider rebellion. In order to quell the people's anger, Johnson creates the religion Bokononism and writes The Books of Bokonon. In order for the religion to gain popularity, McCabe bans the religion and makes Johnson an outlaw. The idea works and the religion spreads to almost every resident of San Lorenzo. The citizens of San Lorenzo stop their threats and are happy (Schatt 62). The Books of Bokonon are a satire of other religious texts because, as nearly everyone knows, most religions have some sort of holy text. Judaism has the Torah, Christianity has the Bible, Islam has the Koran, Hinduism has the Shrutí, etc. (Wilson). Who knows who wrote these religious scriptures and why? The Books of Bokonon was written for political gain (Schatt 62). Johnson, the author, becomes a crazy, disheveled, cynical, old man while he continues to write (Vonnegut 286-287). Maybe the Torah, Bible, Koran, and Shrutí are just some ancient man's way to influence and control the masses. The Books of Bokonon are just one way in which Vonnegut satirizes religious themes.
In Cat's Cradle, the ritual boko-maru is another way Kurt Vonnegut targets religious themes. Boko-maru is a ritual that all Bokononists perform on a regular basis. They rub their bare feet together with another Bokononist almost as if they...
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