This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Comparing Themes In Cat’s Cradle And Slaughterhouse Five

1898 words - 8 pages

Comparing Themes in Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five          

Throughout his career, Kurt Vonnegut has used writing as a tool to convey penetrating messages and ominous warnings about our society. He skillfully combines vivid imagery with a distinctly satirical and anecdotal style to explore complex issues such as religion and war. Two of his most well known, and most gripping, novels that embody this subtle talent are Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. Both books represent Vonnegut’s genius for manipulating fiction to reveal glaring, disturbing and occasionally redemptive truths about human nature. On the surface, Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five are dramatically different novels, each with its own characters, symbols, and plot. However, a close examination reveals that both contain common themes and ideas. Examining and comparing the two novels and their presentation of different themes provides a unique insight into both the novels and the author – allowing the reader to gain a fuller understanding of Vonnegut’s true meaning.

One of the most prevalent themes in Vonnegut’s works is religion. In the early pages of Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut submits his contention that "a useful religion can be founded on lies (Vonnegut, Cats Cradle 16)," meaning that, fundamentally, religion is about people, not about faith or God. Reminiscent of Karl Marx’s description of religion as the "opiate of the masses," he describes all religions as mere collections of "harmless untruths" that help people cope with their lives. The Book of Bokonon in Cat's Cradle represents this portrait of religion at both its dreariest and its most uplifting, Bokononism is contradictory, paradoxical, and founded on lies; its followers are aware of this, yet they continue to believe because it gives them something on which to anchor their lives. Similarly, in Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut uses the writing of Kilgore Trout to comment on relgion, stating that it serves only to help people understand that which they cannot control One of Kilgore Trout’s novels involves a couple who are being studied by aliens. The aliens control a stock ticker that the couple uses to mate investments. One day, the ticker announces that the President has declared a national prayer week. The couple prays, and stocks go up, so they continue to pray. In their struggles to understand the movement of stocks, which they cannot control, the couple has created religion and invented a God to worship.

However, Vonnegut goes on to warn that those that choose to enjoy the superficial comforts provided by a religious lifestyle should brace themselves for a shocking disappointment if they ever do seek proof Of God’s existence. After all, how can God exist in a universe that permits such atrocities as Dresden and Hiroshima? What wrathful fist would level Sodom and Gomorrah without a second thought? In Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim has a gruesome crucifix hanging on his wall. The Christ on...

Find Another Essay On Comparing Themes in Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five

Science versus Religion in Cat’s Cradle

1803 words - 7 pages “The idea that philosophy and science can be combined to give us the best possible knowledge about the world and how to act within it is an old one, encapsulated by the classic concept of scientia, a Latin word that means knowledge” (Pigliucci 6). In the book Cat’s Cradle the main topic of debate is clearly science versus religion. In many ways, these two topics are very different, but in others, they are quite similar. Both science and

Death and Time in Slaughterhouse-Five Essay

948 words - 4 pages Death and Time in Slaughterhouse-Five We all wish we could travel through time, going back to correct our stupid mistakes or zooming ahead to see the future. In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five, however, time travel does not seem so helpful. Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut's main character, has come unstuck in time. He bounces back and forth between his past, present, and future lives in a roller coaster time trip that proves

Imagery in Slaughterhouse-Five

653 words - 3 pages  Kurt Vonnegut's uses many images to enhance the overall effect of Slaughterhouse- Five. Throughout the novel, in both war scenes and in the protagonist's travels back and forward in time, the many images produce a believable story of the unusual life of Billy Pilgrim. Vonnegut uses color imagery, repetitive images, and images of pain and suffering to develop the novel and create situations that the reader can accept and comprehend

Antiwar theme in "Slaughterhouse-Five"

1312 words - 5 pages Indianapolis, Indiana, born in 1922. A very importantpart of Vonnegut's life was when he served in WWII, and was a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany. During that time he experienced the firebombing of Dresden, which affected him hugely. This event had around 135,000 causalities, which is about twice the number killed in atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Many people claim that his experience in the army is what made him write "Slaughterhouse-Five." In the

Social Responsibility in Slaughterhouse-Five

1010 words - 4 pages Failure to take responsibility for one's actions is universally seen as a self-inflicted wound with fateful consequences. However in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, the very nature of social responsibility and free will is challenged. The Tralfamadorians, an alien race from a distant planet, capture protagonist Billy Pilgrim, and introduces him to the fourth dimension. As Billy travels through time and learns that events in time are

The Insanity of War in Slaughterhouse Five

999 words - 4 pages The Insanity of War in Slaughterhouse Five Regarding his views on war, Albert Einstein said in 1931, “[he] who joyfully marches to music in rank and file… has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him a spinal cord would surely suffice.” Slaughterhouse Five, written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is a satirical World War II novel. The novel focuses on Billy Pilgrim’s experiences. He develops schizophrenia during the war and consequently feels as

Fate in Kurt Vonnegut’s Novel, Slaughterhouse-Five

551 words - 2 pages “Fate is a misconception, it's only a cover-up for the fact you don't have control over your own life.” –Anonymous. In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-five, an optometrist named Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time uncontrollably and constantly travels between his past, present, and future. Since Pilgrim is unable to control his time warps, he is forced to re-live agonizing moments such as watching his wartime friend Edgar Derby executed

Slaughterhouse-Five: The Novel and the Movie

4341 words - 17 pages varying results, the film is a faithful adaptation that succeeds in translating the printed words into visual elements and sounds which convincingly convey the novel's themes. While Vonnegut's literary style is very noticeable in Slaughterhouse-Five, the novel as a whole differs from the majority of his other works because it is personal with an interesting point of view technique that reflects Vonnegut's own

Kurt Vonnegut’s Experience of Time Travel, War, and Death in Slaughterhouse-Five

2378 words - 10 pages Slaughterhouse-Five is a stirring science-fiction book, which contains many interesting themes such as, space and time travel, philosophy on death, war, and aliens. In the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is not in the first chapter. The author of this book, Kurt Vonnegut is the main character in this chapter (Harris). This book is written in a rather random order because Billy Pilgrim lived his life that way. In the

War in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

1382 words - 6 pages Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller both have a striking resemblance in the themes of anti-war and of free will. Both don’t come into full force right in the beginning but eventually become more evident. Both novels focus on one character throughout the entire novel, and each protagonist is affected by all the events around them. It changes their perspective and how they view life as a whole. Both Billy in

Freedom to Choose in Waiting for Godot, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Iraq

1541 words - 6 pages for Godot and Slaughterhouse Five, the authors rally for meaning within the chaos of technology and stress the importance of "a possibility of choice"(Sartre 339). In addition to improved technology, Vonnegut and Beckett emphasize that members of society need to attach significance to their lives through the use of free will. Through his dramatic contribution to the "theater of the absurd," Samuel Beckett abandoned the conventions of the

Similar Essays

Kurt Vonnegut’s Novels Cat’s Cradle And Slaughterhouse Five

1334 words - 5 pages cat’s cradle; we experience insignificant objects, feelings, or idols that we base our life on. We base and change our lives off of things with no real significance. Kurt Vonnegut’s novels Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five demonstrate the ineptness of the human race to base our life and happiness off of intricate and interwoven lies, or off of a single point of view. Kurt Vonnegut was born in the United States, Indianapolis, however he was

A Comparison Of Kurt Vonnegut’s Two Novels: Cat’s Cradle And Slaughterhouse Five

740 words - 3 pages Free will, the ability of organisms to make choices without being influenced by divine intervention, is one of history’s most debated philosophical topics. Kurt Vonnegut discusses this matter in his two novels Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. In the first novel, he writes about a religion based on the idea that God puts us in groups to carry out His will. The second novel talks about a group of aliens from the planet Tralfamadore who say

Anti War Sentiments In Cat's Cradle And Slaughterhouse Five

1574 words - 6 pages find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons, that person may be a member of your Karass"(Cat’s Cradle PG. 12). A Karass "ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries"( Cat's Cradle PG. 12), and its only purpose is to help you reach your destiny. Bokonism represents the same function in Cat's Cradle as the Tralmalfadorians do in Slaughterhouse Five; which is introducing the

Comparing Empathy In Blade Runner And Slaughterhouse Five

1831 words - 7 pages Empathy in Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)and Slaughterhouse-Five        "What does it mean to be human?"  This is a question that is often asked in literary works.  Is it our intelligence that separates us from being like any other animal on this planet or is it something else?  Perhaps it is our ability to feel empathy for other humans and other forms of life.  If this is so, then how is it that we also have