Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Group Members

  • Hillary B
  • Pat V
  • Liz B
  • Jon D

Discussion Time

Thursday January 7th 4W (11:09-12:39)

Discussion Agenda

Facilitator: Jon Drouin

Definite Topics to Discuss
  • Bokononism (possibly its similarity and difference from other religions)
  • Human Stupidity
  • The Importance of Science Within Their World

Clarifying Questions

  • What does Felix Hoenikker represent in the story?
  • Why should San Lorenzo be considered a Utopian Society?
  • Why is the book called Cat's Cradle, and what is the significance?

  • John/Jonah
  • Newt Hoenikker
  • Felix Hoenikker
  • Frank Hoenikker
  • Angela Hoenikker
  • Bokonon
  • Papa Monzano
  • Mona Monzano
  • Julian Castle
  • Philip Castle
  • H. Lowe & Hazel Crosby
  • Horlick & Claire Mintons
  • Edward McCabe
  • Zinka

  • John/Jonah

  • San Lorenzo
  • Ilium

  • human stupidity
  • advances in science and technology
  • religion

Style of Writing
  • Narration or retelling of events
  • Simple style of writing

Significant Passages
  • "'The trouble with the world was,' she continued hesitatingly, "that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn't be all the trouble there was.'" (24)
  • "'But people didn't have to pay as much attention to the awful truth. As the living legend of the cruel tyrant in the city and the gentle holy man in the jungle grew, so, too, did the happiness of the people grow. They were all employed full time as actors in a play they understood, that any human being anywhere could understand and applaud.'" (174)
  • "'He teaches the people lies and lies and lies. Kill him and teach the people truth.' 'Yessir.' 'You and Hoenikker, you teach them science.'" (218)
  • "'I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it's unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.'" (219)
  • "'Everything must have a purpose?' asked God. 'Certainly,' said man. 'Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,' said God. And he went away." (265)
  • "If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who." (287)

Outside Resources

Adaptations of Cat's Cradle
  • ice-nine made an appearance in the 2003 movie The Recruit
  • a calypso musical adaptation was preformed in New York in 2008 (link here)
  • a CD was released called "Ice-9 Ballads" and features nine songs with lyrics taken from Cat's Cradle

Bokononism Vocabulary
  • Karass: a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God's will
  • Duprass: a karass of only two people, who almost always die within a week of each other
  • Granfalloon: a false karass; a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist
  • Wampeter: the central point of a karass
  • Foma: harmless untruths
  • Wrang-Wrang: someone who steers a Bokononist away from their line of perception
  • Kan-Kan: an object or item that brings a person into their karas
  • Sinookas: the intertwining "tendrils" of people's lives
  • Vin-Dit: a sudden shove in the direction of Bokononism
  • Saroon: to acquiesce to a vin-dit
  • Stuppa: a fogbound child (aka: an idiot)
  • Duffle: the destiny of thousands of people placed on one stuppa
  • Sin-Wat: a person who wants all of somebody's love for themself
  • Pool-Pah: the wrath of God
  • Boku-Maru: the supreme act of worship of the Bokononists; touching the soles of ones feet to the soles of another person's feet
  • Busy, busy, busy: words Bokononists whisper when they think about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is
  • Now I Will Destroy The Whole World: the last words of a Bokononist before committing suicide

Interesting Links