Cat's Cradle

by: Kurt Vonnegut

Chapters 82-97

Summary Chapters 82-97


Frank telephoned back to his house and demanded that John stay there until they can speak. He refused to tell John over the phone the reason for the urgency, except to say that Monzano was dying and that the death involved John in some way. Julian filled John in on the details of Monzano's demise: He had terminal cancer. His doctor was Dr. Schlichter von Koenigswald, a former German S.S. officer who worked at Auschwitz for six years. Repentant about the atrocities he had committed during the Holocaust, Koenigswald became a member of Julian's staff to try to atone by helping the poor of San Lorenzo. Julian wryly calculated that by 3010, Koenigswald would have saved as many people as he allowed to die in the death camp.

Meanwhile, the soldiers at the training camp, known as Fort Jesus, began digging holes and machine gun pits. The electricity went out all over the island. The soldiers would say only that they were under order to protect Monzano. To quell his uneasiness, John listened to Newt and Angela discussing Felix's identical twin, a music-box manufacturer in Switzerland, and Felix's sister, who raised schnauzers in New York. To further occupy himself, John read Frank's copy of The Books of Bokonon. Later that night, the electricity returned, startling Angela, John, and Newt awake. They ran about in disarray, Newt and Angela carrying thermos that contained pieces of ice-nine, unbeknownst to John. John found Frank outside. With Mona at his side, Frank was tinkering with a generator. John felt that he needed Mona more than he had ever needed anyone.

Frank tried clumsily to speak "man to man" with John before he got to the urgent matter of John's zah-mah-ki-bo, his destiny. He wanted John to become president of San Lorenzo after Monzano's death. Like Felix, Frank had no skill in dealing with the public. When John refused, Frank asked if there was anyone else he should ask. John notes that this scene is an example of what Bokononists call a duffle, a moment when the destiny of thousands rest in the hands of a stuppa, an ignorant child. When John laughed, Frank became defensive because it reminded him of his high school days when his peers taunted him with the nickname Secret Agent X-9. Inwardly, John pondered the irony that Frank's tormentors now held monotonous blue-collar jobs while Frank was a Major General offering him the presidency of a small republic. Frank added that all those kids in high school would all have been surprised had they known he was having sex with Jack's wife at the hobby shop every day.

Frank then informed John that The Books of Bokonon prophesied that Mona would become the wife of the future president of San Lorenzo. In other words, if John became president, Mona would be his. John accepted the job.

Mona performed the boku-maru ritual with John, much to his orgiastic delight. Afterward, they declared their love for one another, and John tried to forbid her to love or perform boku-maru with anyone else. Mona called him a sin-wat, a man who demands all of someone's love, and refused to marry him. John quickly relented and became a Bokononist that day, learning that the only thing Bokononists consider sacred is humankind.

The next morning, John and Frank visited Monzano's dreary castle to get his blessing for their plan. A Christian minister was there with a live chicken and a butcher knife. Since Catholicism and Protestantism were outlawed in San Lorenzo, the minister was forced to create new rituals in order to practice as a Christian on the island. Monzano languished on the golden bed that had been constructed from Bokonon and McCabe's crashed ship. He was wearing a small container on a necklace. Unbeknownst to John, the container held ice-nine. Monzano took the news of Frank and John's plan in stride. He urged John to kill Bokonon, then asked that Frank teach the people the truth through science, claiming that science was the only magic that works. He expelled the Christian minister and refused to take Christian last rites.