Cat's Cradle

by: Kurt Vonnegut

Chapters 56-72

Summary Chapters 56-72


John continued to read Philip's book on the history of San Lorenzo. When Bokonon and McCabe landed at San Lorenzo, the native people were ravaged by poverty and disease. The Catholic Church and Julian Castle's sugar corporation combined to own almost all of the land on the island, despite the fact that Castle's company never turned a profit. Philip notes that the company broke even only because it paid its laborers nothing. San Lorenzo had no real history of independence. The island had been conquered by various nations. When Castle Sugar arrived, the island had no government at all, and the company simply took advantage of the situation to exploit the workers. McCabe and Bokonon stepped into this void and declared themselves in charge of the island with the hope of making it a utopia. Having never actually made a profit, the sugar company withdrew its claim to the island without protest. Bokonon created a new religion while McCabe tried to re-design the economic and legal systems.

When the plane landed at San Lorenzo, Lowe was in the process of defining what he meant by "pissant," a person who thinks he knows everything and makes others feel like idiots. Lowe was delighted to discover that he, Newt, and John had all attended Cornell, according to John, another granfalloon. Hearing Newt's last name, Lowe asked if he had something to do with a Russian dancer who was rumored to be a spy. Newt carefully turned the topic of conversation.

Besides the small group of modern buildings in its capital city of Bolivar, San Lorenzo was still ravaged by poverty. McCabe and Bokonon had failed to improve the standard of living for the island's native residents. Posters declaring the illegality of practicing Bokononism were plastered around the island. Other posters depicted Bokonon and offered a reward for his capture dead or alive.

Mona, Frank, and "Papa" Monzano met the passengers of the plane. Monzano was rather old and appeared to be very ill. John regarded Mona as the embodiment of all male fantasies about women. Monzano greeted Lowe as if he was the American ambassador until Lowe pointed him to Horlick. Monzano informed Horlick that the next day was a national holiday in honor of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy. Horlick lied when he replied that every American schoolchild knew of the Hundred Martyrs and their sacrifice, but Monzano collapsed on the ground. Monzano whispered that Frank was to become president after his death because Frank had science and "ice" in his power.

After Monzano was carted away, the Crosbys and John took a cab to their hotel. Upon questioning, the cab driver informed them that Bokonon was a "very bad man" who was probably a Communist. John asked him about the Hundred Martyrs. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, San Lorenzo declared war against Germany and Japan and sent a hundred soldiers on a ship to the United States. A German submarine sunk the ship just as it left Bolivar's harbor. The hundred soldiers became known as the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy.

The Crosbys and John were the first guests ever at the Casa Mona Hotel. Crosby attempted to speak with a young man working on a huge mosaic portrait of Mona, but the artist rudely rebuffed his attempts at conversation. John received similarly flippant answers to his questions. He finally realized that he was speaking to Philip Castle, proprietor of the hotel and author of San Lorenzo: The Land, the History, the People. Crosby attempted to complain to the hotel clerk about Philip's rude behavior. When the clerk informed him that the man in question owned the hotel, the Crosbys checked out of the Casa Mona to take lodging in the American embassy.