Felix's youngest son, Newt was a midget who flunked out of medical school at Cornell. He was briefly engaged to a Russian dancer.
He won the Nobel prize in physics and was one of the fathers of the atomic bomb. The inventor of ice-nine, he left the creation to his three children Newt, Angela, and Frank. Felix was always engrossed in his work and showed little concern for his family or any other people.
Felix Hoenikker's tall, unattractive eldest child. After her mother died in childbirth with Newt, Felix withdrew Angela from school to take care of him, Frank, and Newt. Despite her unhappiness, Angela believed her father was an unappreciated saint. After her father's death, Angela traded her share of ice-nine to Harrison C. Conners, a scientist involved with top secret weapons research for the U.S. government, in return for his agreement to marry her.
Dr. Breed's secretary.
Felix Hoenikker's wife and the mother of Newt, Angela, and Frank. She died when giving birth to Newt. Felix did not show much attention to his wife when she was alive, and her death did not seem to affect his attitude.
The narrator. His given name was John, but he adopts the name Jonah in the opening lines of Cat's Cradle. His aspirations to write a book about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, titled The Day the World Ended, led to his contact with Angela, Frank, and Newt Hoenikker. He became involved with their efforts to buy happiness through the use of their father Felix's scientific creation, ice-nine.
He hoped to turn the impoverished island of San Lorenzo into a utopia. After realizing the futility of his efforts, he sought to offer the people of San Lorenzo hope through the lies of his religion, Bokononism. He became a prophet to the people, but he became a fugitive on the island because of his teachings.
A Ukrainian ballet dancer who was briefly engaged to Newt. She was a Soviet spy who returned to her country after stealing ice-nine from Newt.
The second child of Felix and Emily Hoenikker, Frank showed much of his father's lack of concern for others. After disappearing from Ilium after his father's funeral, he bought himself a job as Major General on San Lorenzo by giving ice-nine to the island's dictator.
The dictator of San Lorenzo who employed Frank as Major General in exchange for ice-nine. He persecuted Bokononists for their involvement in the religion. Monzano committed suicide by swallowing ice-nine.
The extremely beautiful adopted daughter of "Papa" Monzano. He adopted her to raise his popularity. The Books of Bokonon prophesized that Mona would marry the next President, and Mona was a devout Bokononist. Mona committed suicide by swallowing ice-nine.
A secretary at the research laboratoy in Ilium. She expressed dismay that she did not understand any of the research that was being done at the laboratory and exemplifies the uneducated masses with respect to science.
Asa Breed's brother, who owned and operated the tombstone shop in Ilium. He was in love with Emily Hoenikker before she met Felix.
Dr. Asa Breed was Felix's supervisor at the research laboratory where Felix helped develop the atomic bomb. Jonah interviewed Dr. Breed for his novel, but Dr. Breed was offended by Jonah's questions because he thought Jonah believed scientists were indifferent to the plight of humanity. He told Jonah about Felix's ideas about ice-nine, but he denied that Dr. Hoenikker had been successful in creating it.
Owner of the hobby shop where Frank Hoenikker worked in high school. He showed a lot of pride in the work that Frank produced while he worked at the show and was outwardly emotional when the subject of Frank's death was discussed.
The artist whom Jonah let stay in his apartment when he traveled to Ilium. He was the wrang-wrang in Jonah's karass because by wrecking Jonah's apartment and killing his cat, he turned Jonah away from nihilism and made him a more receptive target for Bokononism.
H. Lowe and Hazel, bicycle makers whom Jonah met on the plane to San Lorenzo. They told him about the hook, a form of punishment on the island, and they gossiped that Horlick Minton was a Communist. Hazel was delighted that Jonah, Newt, and Angela were Hoosiers, because it made them members of her granfalloon.
Horlick and Claire Minton
American ambassador to San Lorenzo and his wife, who were seatmates with Jonah on their flight to the island. They introduced Jonah to Philip Castle's novel about the island, which gave him his first exposure to Bokononism.
The man with whom Bokonon washed up on the shores of San Lorenzo. He and Bokonon created a society of Dynamic Tension in which the religion of Bokononism was condemned to give the religious life of the people more zeal. Although he began his role as dictator in an attempt to provide hope to the people in the form of the distraction of religion, it soon became too difficult for him to maintain the behavior of an evil dictator, and he committed suicide.
Owner and manager of Casa Mona, the hotel at which Jonah stayed during his visit to San Lorenzo. He grew up with Mona as a devout Bokononist and gave Jonah some insight into the plight of the San Lorenzans and their involvement in Bokononism.
Former millionaire who built and ran the House of Hope and Mercy in the Jungle for twenty years. A devout Bokononist, he administered the last rites to San Lorenzans after they died. He taught Jonah a great deal about the practice of Bokononism on the island.
Frank Hoenikker's servant.
Dr. Vox Humana
A Christian minister who studied in the States before returning to San Lorenzo. He was there to administer "Papa's" last rites, but was turned away when "Papa" revealed he was a Bokononist.
A physician who served with the S.S. in Germany for fourteen years, including six years at Auschwitz. He worked at Castle's hospital in San Lorenzo as penance for his past sins, and he was "Papa" Monzano's doctor. He administered "Papa's" last rites, according to the Books of Bokonon.
A Finnish architect who designed Julian Castle's charity hospital on San Lorenzo. He was Mona's biological father, and he used to live in Frank's house on Mount McCabe.
A scientist involved in weapons research for the U.S. government who married Angela Hoenikker in exchange for a piece of ice-nine. His marriage to Angela was not happy; he cheated on her and treated her poorly.
The Hundred Martyrs to Democracy
San Lorenzo declared war on Japan and Germany after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and tried to send one hundred men to the States to help with the war effort. A German submarine sank the ship in San Lorenzo's harbor, killing all of the soldiers. San Lorenzo created a national holiday in their memory.
Cat’s Cradle Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Cat’s Cradle is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Vonnegut presents religion as more useful and less dangerous than science, despite its paradoxes and shortcomings. In the novel, religion is beneficial not because it conveys some truth about the world, but rather because it gives people elaborate...
Vonnegut introduces the "cat's cradle" as a metaphor for different interpretations of life. "A cat's cradle is nothing more than a bunch of X's between somebody's hands" (165) says Newt, who had been traumatized as a child by the sight of his...