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Satire In Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle

1434 words - 6 pages

Kurt Vonnegut’s book, Cat’s Cradle is a satirical comedy of a person who tries to write a book about the day the world ended, however, he never completes the book because he dies. Vonnegut uses John’s book as a means of ridiculing the individuals that he meets along his journey to completing the book. Cat’s Cradle is set in the fictional city of San Lorenzo where hope is only found in religion. Through the use of humour Vonnegut challenges conventional notions of religion and science while satirizing those that identify themselves with either group. Firstly, Vonnegut satirizes religion using Bokononism, a religion based on lies that is accepted by the people of San Lorenzo. Secondly, through crude black humour Vonnegut displays science as a detrimental factor to safety and real progress.

Vonnegut satirically attacks religion by displaying it’s purpose as only providing comfort to it’s followers regardless of whether it’s based on truth or lies. Cat’s Cradle introduces Bokononism, a religion made up of ”bittersweet lies” (Vonnegut,12) with the sole aim of providing people with purpose and meaning to their otherwise boring life. Bokonon the creator of the religion admits that it is based on lies but he also realizes that in order for it to be useful it does not have to necessarily be true. The books of Bokonon, the biblical equivalent of Bokononism states : “Live by the foma (harmless untruths) that make you brave and kind and happy and healthy.” (Vonnegut, 6) The city of San Lorenzo is used by Vonnegut to display the usefulness of Bokononism over any truth. The truth would be that the lives of humans lack purpose and that does not in any way help San Lorenzo, the poorest country in the world. In addition, San Lorenzo has no future economical stability nor do they have any natural resources to diminish the poverty of it’s citizens. Therefore instead of trying to fix their problems, the people of San Lorenzo try to find happiness and purpose in a religion that they know is based on lies. “Well, when it became evident that no governmental 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’” (Vonnegut, 109). Vonnegut is trying to demonstrate that regardless of the proof presented against religion, it’s followers will remain strong in their faith. Vonnegut uses Papa Monzano to show how human’s are stupid and unpredictable, changing their ways as they please without questioning. For example, Papa Monzano, on his death bed, after being a follower of Bokononism for a good part of his life declares that science is the truth and that Bokononism is deceiving people. The irony come in when Papa Monzona ask for his last rites to be those of Bokononism right after declaring it’s deceiving nature. A karass is a term used by Bokononists, it is used to define a group of people who are doing God’s work for his unknown...

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