Due to being sick and a long moving process, I never got past page 30 of the book ^ ^'' Which is very shameful, I know. But I hope some of you finished it, found it interesting, and are willing to share your thoughts and comments.

So, start discussing :) Feel free to talk about any and all aspects of the plot, characters, style, whatever.

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I didn't even get that far, since I was unable to obtain a copy myself...
Loved it!

For all I can tell Vonnegut based his description of San Lorenzo in my hometown...oh yes, that happiness is mine (or probably "unhappiness" depending on how you look at it ;) btw, I was also born in the state capital of Bolívar and my dad's name is Néstor too lol and look at this:

Mona Amons Monzano
Rosa Amelia Martínez (this is my complete name, isn't this weird?...it's a good thing I'm not superstitious ;)

Cat's Cradle is filled with wonderful quotes, I think among my favorites is this, "I agree with one Bokononist idea. I agree that all religions, including Bokononism, are nothing but lies".

I don't know on what topic should we start the discussion, Vonnegut's take on science and religion probably. Did anyone else read the book of Bokonon?
Cats Craddle is also one of my real favorites in Vonnegut's wonderful production. I have btw. even written an essay on him in my blog: http://beinghuman.blogs.fi/2008/01/15/kurt_vonnegut_jr_1922~3581971
I rediscovered Vonnegut's brilliance last year after almost a 35-year hiatus. And most of the scattered memories I had were from this novel alone, probably one of his best.

See my reactions to this novel on my web page:

Revisiting Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle by R. Dumain
The thing I find most compelling about this book is that the stereotyped contrasts between science and religion are taken to their most absurd limits.

Felix Hoenikker, the scientist, is shown as highly intelligent but unwise. He isn't really immoral but is instead completely amoral, without a flicker of concern for anything outside his own thoughts. His inner life consumes his entire existence. He cares nothing about consequences, only about truth.

Bokonon, the religionist, is shown as the perpetrator of lies, but not accidental ones. His lies are blatant and shameless. He explains the world fatalistically and says that each person is part of a great unknowable plan. He invents everything whole cloth and doesn't care who knows it. His followers, however, don't seem to care. They don't give a jot about truth either.

Most characters in this book, no matter what their philosophy, are incapable of seeing past the end of their own nose. Each is wrapped up in a private world, and each follows a private agenda. Their lives, however, clash in unexpected ways, whether by coincidence or cosmic plan, causing terrible destruction. Each step in the destructive chain is caused by someone who, if asked, would most likely be confounded by any suggestion of blame. They simply wouldn't get it. It ends up being a case of if everyone's to blame, then no one is.

Kinda sounds like a caricature of real life.

Who in this book deserves the most blame? Or does anyone?
Very astute observation on the characters. It seems the narrator was the only somewhat balanced person.
For me, the most interesting symbol in this book is the Cat's Cradle itself. From Newt's explanation of his painting, it seems to reflect societal institutions like religion or marriage, and the emptiness of them. From what Newt says of his sister's marriage and Bokononism, he appears to see these things as so devoid of meaning that no child would believe in them unless brainwashed to do so.

"For maybe a hundred thousand years or more, grownups have been waving tangles of string in their children's faces . . . 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's . . . No damn cat, and no damn cradle."

What did everybody else think the Cat's Cradle itself meant? Out of curiosity, what institutions would you compare with the Cat's Cradle?
I think the Cat's Cradle had a double meaning. From one viewpoint, each strand of the Cat's Cradle is connected to every other. They are all interwoven, and what happens to one affects the others (i.e. karasses, ice-nine). The entire structure is held together and controlled by a giant puppetmaster. Unfortunately, if you've ever played Cat's Cradle, the entire conglomeration eventually gets so tangled that it falls apart. Disaster is lurking, no matter how you start the game. It's fate is sealed.

The other view of the Cat's Cradle is as you stated above, the nihilistic view of "no damn cat, and no damn cradle" (i.e. The Fourteenth Book) According to this view, the world is meaningless and nothing anyone does can change anything. Everything is an illusion.

It's strange how one symbol can demonstrate both extremes.

I've been trying to think of an institution that we might compare to a Cat's Cradle and I can't. On one hand, science values truth and studies how things interact, but it rejects the puppetmaster. Religion, on the other hand, tries to give meaning and purpose to everything, the opposite of nihilism, but it rejects truth.

Anyone else have an idea?
I haven't read this in about 20 years, but it, along with Mother Night, and Player Piano, is one of my favorite Vonnegut novels. I'll go pick up a copy tonight and reread.
I was a bit late reading the book, and discussion seems to have tailed off some time ago..... I did enjoy the novel, immensely.




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