Sunday, January 19, 2020
Use of Satire in Kurt Vonneguts Cats Cradle :: Kurt Vonnegut Cats Cradle Essays
Use of Satire in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Kurt Vonnegut said in The Vonnegut Statement (1973), in an interview with Robert Scholes, that one of his reasons for writing is "to poison minds with humanityÃ¢â¬ ¦to encourage them to make a better world" (107). This idea works quite well in Vonnegut's book, Cat's Cradle. It is a satirical story of a man's quest to write a book about the day the world ended (refering to the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima), which he never finishes. What we get is a raw look at humans trying desperately to find a sense of purpose in their lives through different means such as religion, science, etc. Vonnegut uses satire that is both dark and humorous to pursue this point. A good example is found in the prelude of the book where he writes, "Nothing in this book is true. 'Live by the foma [Harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.'" Bokonon, we learn, is a religion that is made up of "bittersweet lies" (12). "Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon [the creator of the religion] made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies" (118). We also learn that science takes the opposite opinion. One of the men who helped develop the atomic bomb tells us, "The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become" (36). I think one thing that Vonnegut is trying to show us is that man too easily accepts things as valid without questioning. Refering to this, Newt, another character, says, "No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X'sÃ¢â¬ ¦No damn cat, and no damn cradle" (114). Cat's Cradle is full of these kinds of "poisons" not only about religion and science, but also about many other human frailties as well. In a way, Vonnegut is holding a mirror (that hides no imperfections) up to humanity in order that humanity might see its own the folly and futility and thus be impelled to try and improve. I think Vonnegut's hope is that this book will allow people to laugh at themselves while also making them think about how they are directing their own lives.