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Cat's Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut

Chapters 115-127

Summary Chapters 115-127


While firing on the effigies in the sea, one of the planes in San Lorenzo's air force caught fire and crashed into the cliff over Monzano's castle. One tower of the castle broke off into the sea, setting off a huge rockslide that swept over the Mintons, killing them. Shortly thereafter, the rockslide carried Monzano's bed and body into the sea. Within seconds, ice-nine covered the world, and tornadoes were raged over the frozen sea.

John and Mona took refuge in Monzano's underground bomb until the tornadoes died down, passing the time with a furious sexual orgy. Afterward, John occupied himself with reading a copy of The Books of Bokonon. On the first page, Bokonon warns that everything contained within is nothing but foma, or lies. The book states: When God fashioned His creations out of mud, one of which was humankind, the humans asked God what the purpose was of all His creations. God asked if everything had to have a purpose and the humans replied that it did. Before He left, He assigned them the task of discovering that purpose.

When the weather died down, Mona and John climbed to the peak of Mount McCabe and found thousands of frozen, dead citizens of San Lorenzo neatly assembled. On a boulder, they found a scribbled message from Bokonon. The people who had survived the storm brought him to the peak of the mountain and asked him to explain why God had done this. He replied that God was attempting to kill them all, so he advised them to die, which they did. John expressed anger and indignation at Bokonon's extreme cynicism. Mona laughed and asked if he would wish any of these dead people alive again. When John did not answer, she touched a piece of ice-nine to her lips and died.

Lowe and Hazel took John to the remains of Frank's house where Newt and Frank were waiting. Angela died when she tried to play a clarinet with a mouthpiece contaminated with ice-nine. Philip and Julian died while helping people at Julian's hospital. For six months, John, the Crosbys, and the Hoenikker brothers ate canned foods and melted ice-nine to create potable water. Hazel occupied her time by sewing an American flag while Lowe worked as the cook. Frank built a transmitter to send an S.O.S. signal day and night, and John busied himself with writing the story of events that is Cat's Cradle.

Frank found some surviving ants and built up an ant farm. He watched the ants day and night as they adapted to the new circumstances brought about by ice-nine. John offered flippant answers to Frank's questions about the ants. Frank replied that he had grown up a lot, so that he no longer took "silly answers seriously." John replied that he had grown up and dealt with his social anxieties by killing off almost every living thing on earth, but his criticism fell on deaf ears.

When Newt and John discussed the loss of their sexual urges, Newt pointed out that all the fuss about sex was really about reproduction. Now that the world was hopeless and they have no childbearing women around, they have lost the sexual drive. John later met Bokonon sitting on a rock writing the last installment of his religious books. The last sentence declared that if Bokonon were a younger man he would write a history of human stupidity before lying on the ground to commit suicide by ice-nine while thumbing his nose at God.