Cat's Cradle

by: Kurt Vonnegut

Chapters 115-127

Summary Chapters 115-127

A prisoner once sent Felix a copy of a book he wrote about the end of the world. In his book, people engaged in a sexual orgy when the end was near. John repeated this scenario exactly. When facing the end of most life on earth, he satisfied his sexual urges. Again, Bokonon's distrust of humanity's ability to change its behavior despite numerous warnings is justified by the behavior of the other characters. Despite the warnings offered by Felix's irresponsible decision to rest before cleaning up the mess of ice-nine in his kitchen, the Hoenikker siblings and John did exactly the same thing. As a result, the plane crash unleashed ice-nine into the ocean.

Bokononism acknowledges humanity's irrational need for a reason and purpose in human existence. Bokonon's legend of humanity's creation portrays God as a playful court jester who sends his creations out to find a meaning and purpose where there is none. Bokononism doesn't offer an explanation for God's decision to create human beings. God assigned humanity the task of discovering the purpose behind their existence only because humanity demanded one. Nor does Cat's Cradle offer a purpose for humanity's ultimate destruction. In fact, the end of the world came about as the result of a stupid, careless accident. Survivors like Hazel reacted to the disaster with laughable trite phrases, such as, "It's no use crying over spilt milk." However, what reactions other than suicide or laughter are possible in the face of such a stupid catastrophe? In essence, "spilt milk" is the most accurate description of the accident. The end of the world was a dumb accident, with no grandeur, over in an instant.

Newt and John concluded that humanity's only real purpose was perpetuation of the human race. The entire human search for meaning within Cat's Cradle involved an immense outpouring of rational thought in search of a prize that did not exist. Everyone had an idea about what humanity should be, and they fought and battled to protect and propagate that idea of humanity. All of the deft handling of arguments and ideas, the justifications of religion, national identity, and political philosophy, nothing more than a game of Cat's Cradle, pointless and without end. And, even after the disaster, after the world had ended and all man's stupidity laid bare, still the survivors clung to the delusions of the past. Bokonon recognized the lost cause of humanity and dreamed of suicide. Hazel spent endless hours in her last days stitching together an American flag, claiming the island of San Lorenzo for a country that was no more.