Cat's Cradle

by: Kurt Vonnegut

Chapters 44-55

Vonnegut's vision of the United States reveals a country that, in some instances, could act like a totalitarian state, particularly during the rabid anti-communism of McCarthyism. Vonnegut portrays this rise of dogmatism as yet another dangerous element to the irrational grouping behavior of human beings. It is worth noting, however, that while Vonnegut's portrayal of the United States certainly has merit and basis in fact, the United States that appears in Cat's Cradle is significantly simplified from that of actual history.

Angela was extremely indifferent to the ramifications of her father's research. She considered the day Hiroshima was bombed the same as any other day in that her father paid the same lack of attention to her as he usually did, completely ignoring the mass death and destruction caused by the bomb. In order to cope with her father's indifference toward her, she deluded herself into thinking he was a saint. She guarded his reputation with an almost religious devotion because she didn't want to see him for what he was--an irresponsible, conscienceless, indifferent man. Newt and Angela continued their father's tradition of irresponsibility by carrying ice-nine on the plane, just as Frank took ice-nine on the boat to San Lorenzo. A shipwreck or a plane crash could have released the ice-nine into the ocean, creating a global disaster.