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Cats Cradle, Bokoninism, and Thinking - Essay Example

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Cat's Cradle is a story about a man trying to write a book about the creation of the atomic bomb. As he does so, numerous events happen and he ends up on a distant island where there is a religion called Bokononism. …
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Cats Cradle, Bokoninism, and Thinking
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Download file to see previous pages Bokononism is a religion which explicitly says that "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies" (Vonnegut 5). Although this seems like it is just mean-spirited, Kelly Bender argues that it should be taken with some skepticism. Bender argues that the line means "we create meaning in our lives by thinking about the world in which we live" (Bender). After all, why should you accept as true something from someone who just said he would lie? On the other hand, R. Joseph Ponniah argues that Bokononism "provides people with better and better lies, both because truth is the enemy of people, and because it is terrible" (Ponniah 21). To Ponniah Bokononism is a comparison with Christianity because "Harmless untruths are necessary for churches because they help people accept their misfortunes" (Ponniah 22).
Indeed, throughout the novel, the narrator, John a Christian, learns more about Bokononism and slowly becomes more interested in it. He reads many of the books of Bokonon, although he seems to treat them with skepticism. However, he does ultimately become a Bokononist, instead of a Christian, as he says in the very first chapter: "I am a Bokononist now" (Vonnegut 2). The way these two religions are compared suggests that they are pretty much the same. Interestingly, Bokonon is even compared to Jesus, although not explicitly. At the beginning of the novel Vonnegut talks about a novel somebody had written about the world ending in the year 2000 and there being "a big sex orgy when everybody knew that the world was going to end, and then Jesus Christ Himself appeared ten seconds before the bomb went off" (Vonnegut 9-10). Towards the end of the novel, when the ice-nine has spread into the seas, John and Mona have an orgy of their own, and then Bokonon is given the spot of Christ when John meets him on the mountain. John also compares himself to Jonah right at the start of the story. "Call me Jonah," he says (Vonnegut 1). This should get any reader thinking about that Biblical story, where Jonah believes that God is merciful and will not allow any bad thing to happen. John, the narrator, obviously does not believe this any more. He spends most of the novel worried about ice-nine, and his worries are made reality when ice-nine floods the oceans and everybody starts to die off. Bokonon himself reinforces this idea at the end of the novel, when he talks about how everything is just an example of “human stupidity” (Vonnegut 287). If this is the case, even if there were a merciful God, which Vonnegut does not seem to think, we would be foolish to just expect him to make things better. The only way we could do that is by thinking for ourselves, and thumbing our noses at God, like Bokonon dues (Vonnegut 287). As can be seen, at the heart of Cat's Cradle is not just a critique about formal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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