In Cats cradle vonnegut challenges the readers faith of their own religion by saying that religion is based on shameless lies and it’s only purpose is to give meaning and purpose to it’s practitioners. Iin the beginning V states “Bokononism is based on “shameless lies. ” page 14. people are grouped in a karass to fulfill God’s will, but never have any idea of what that will/goal is everything is meant to happen, person has no control over their destiny giving rise to: bokononists have to do nothing but live their lives in order to be doing gods will
Miss Faust’s conversation with Felix regarding absolute truths emphasizes the theme of science as alien to basic human needs. Of course, humanity has been concerned with finding “truth” for most of its history, whether that truth came in the form of religion, culture, education, or science. Miss Faust offered Felix a religious conception of truth, but Felix, ever the scientist, asked her to define God and love. Vonnegut poses the hypothesis that “truth” alone does not fulfill human needs, whether it is religious or scientific truth. Significance of Cat’s Cradle vs religion. There is no cat nor cradle.
Is there God, or love? You can’t see it. How do you know? you can keep searching for truth/religion/god, but like the game of cat’s cradle its never-ending. humans strive to fulfill their void, of a lack of meaning in their lives, their folly will blind them from the truth. Kurt Vonnegut portrays his inner emotions and feelings of the insignificance of religion through the characters of his novel, Cat’s Cradle. His satiric approach to a subject that many people base their daily existence upon, challenges the readers faith. As people search for a deeper meaning in their lives, the more confused they become.
Only to become entwined in the Cat ‘s Cradle of life. In the beginning, the reader is warned: “Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either” (5-6). The theme throughout the entire novel is set as, religion is based on lies to give people something to believe, and find meaning in. Vonnegut created a religion in his novel, Bokonism, founded by a man named Bokonon. Through lies, and short poems, Bokonon spreads his religion to the people of San Lorenzo, a small desolate island with no future. “All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies. (5) Vonnegut, through the ideals of Bokononism, gives the reader insight into the notion that all religions are based on lies, and un-truths. When Bokonon, christened Lionel Boyd Johnson, arrived at the Island of San Lorenzo, he saw the place as a disaster, which would yield no economic wealth or prosperity. Theonly way that he saw possible for of this place to become a utopia was to invent lies in which the people could base their existence. These lies would convince the people that they had a much better life then they actually did, keeping the structure of the island alive.
An example of one of Bokonon’s short poems: “I wanted all thingsTo seem to make some sense,So we all could be happy, yes,Instead of tense. And I made up liesSo that they all fit nice,And I made this sad worldA par-a-dise” (127). Bokonon explains his reasons for creating the lies on which his religion is founded; he makes the peoples lives more wholesome. People have always searched for meaning, meaning that science has not been able to provide them with. So the people therefore turn to higher forms of meaning, i. e. religion; despite the fact that it’s constructed to give meaning when no such meaning exists.
Bokonon’s reason why man searched for meaning in life is as follows: “And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this? ” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose? ” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave you to think of one for all this,” said God, and he went away” (265). The oblivious correlation between this story, of how humans were created, and the story of Adam and Eve, from the bible, is a religious satire.
Vonnegut uses this to prove his point that religion is based on un-truths that explain the un-explainable. Throughout Cat’s Cradle, religious references are subtly portrayed through the situations that take place as the book progresses. Felix Hoenikker was “the father of the atomic bomb” (131), more than he was the father of his own children. His scientific work caused him to neglect them; however his lack of morals allowed him to continue his work uninterrupted. He was a scientist who had no quest for meaning, but a quest for truth. “What is sin? ” (17).
Felix was oblivious to the destruction that his creation of the atomic bomb had caused, having no moral obligation to the lives of the people that he destroyed. “? He was practically a Jesus, except for the son of God part” (67) Jesus created a religion, while Felix created the atomic bomb which killed hundreds of thousands. Vonnegut uses his satiric play of words to denounce Jesus of the crimes that his religion has caused. The holy wars and religious battles around the world since the dawn of time have claimed many casualties, thus relating Jesus to Felix Hoenikker.
This relation also provides the reader with the notion that people feel that they do not hold responsibility to their creations. Newt Hoenikker’s, Felix’s son’s, birth killed Emily, Felix’s wife. Just as In Genesis Chapter 35, Line 16, of The Bible, Rachel dies giving birth to Israel’s baby. The lines between Bokononism and Christianity are fine, and the lies begin to overlap each other, proving each other wrong. “The words were a paraphrase of the suggestion by Jesus:” Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s. ” Bokonon’s paraphrase was this: “Pay no attention to Caesar.
Caesar doesn’t have the slightest idea of what’s really going on” (101)”. Bokonon contradicts the thoughts of Christianity, proving the lack of true meaning in religion. The similarities and contradictions between Bokononism and Christianity are so prevalent that the mere fact that they coincide with one another proves them to be bitter lies (Price). The only interaction that Newt had with his father was one day that Felix tried to show him a game of Cat’s Cradle, in which hetried to get Newt to see the cat and the cradle, which were both non-existent.
All of the people who turn to religion are looking for a meaning that will never be found. “Religion! “… “See the cat? ” asked Newt. “See the cradle” (183). Newt’s constant reference to the game of Cat’s Cradle is a symbol of the search for meaning that people get caught up in. Cat’s Cradle is a game that has a complete absence of fact, no cat or cradle exists, only the mere illusion. Newt implies that the people who search for a meaning in religion are searching for something that is not there at all.
Bokonon finds it comical that the people who study his religion find more meaning in their lives when it is all crafted lies. The nihilistic views of Vonnegut begin to become clear as Cat’s Cradle, comes to a close. It is human nature to search for meaning in life, meaning that science alone cannot provide. Science discovered that the basic need of human existence is “protein” (24). This fact of science intensifies the conclusion that human existence is futile without meaning, such a meaning that religion provides.
However, that is just the statement that Vonnegut expects the people of the world to make. The void that humans feel a need to fill, with thoughts such as religion, will never be filled; the search for meaning is never-ending. Just like an endless, pointless game of Cat’s Cradle. Bokonon, in his infinite wisdom knew not to take his own advice and the validity of it was null. There is no truth, there is no meaning, “No damn cat, and no damn cradle” (66). BibliographyVonnegut, Kurt: Cat’s Cradle Delta Books 1998. (287 pages)
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