Cat's Cradle


  • 'The narrator' is a writer named John, also known as Jonah, who describes the events in the book with humorous and sarcastic detail. While writing a book on the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he becomes involved with the Hoenikker children. He begins the book by stating "Call me Jonah", alluding to the first line of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. In a way, John and Ishmael, the narrator for Moby-Dick, share the same traits as simultaneously a protagonist and a minor character.
  • Felix Hoenikker is the "Father of the Atom Bomb." Felix Hoenikker was proclaimed one of the smartest scientists on Earth. An eccentric and emotionless man, he is depicted as amoral and apathetic towards anything other than his research. He needed only something to keep him busy, such as in his role as one of the "Fathers of the Atomic Bomb", and in his creation of "ice-nine," a potentially catastrophic substance with the capability to destroy all life on Earth, but which he saw merely as a mental puzzle (a Marine general suggested developing a substance that could solidify mud so soldiers could run across it more easily). During experiments with "ice nine", Felix takes a nap in his rocking chair and dies. It is the narrator's quest for biographical details about Hoenikker that provides both the background and the connecting thread between the various subsections of the story.
  • Dr. Asa Breed is Felix Hoenikker's supervisor. He takes the narrator, John, around Illium and to the General Forge and Foundry Company where the late Felix worked. Later in the tour, Dr. Breed becomes upset with John for "misunderstanding what a scientist is, what a scientist does." [4]
  • Newton "Newt" Hoenikker: The midget son of famed scientist Felix Hoenikker, and a painter. He is the brother of both Frank and Angela Hoenikker. His main hobby is painting minimalist abstract works. He briefly had an affair with a Russian midget dancer named Zinka, who turned out to be a KGB agent sent to steal ice-nine for the Soviet Union.
  • Emily Hoenikker is Felix Hoenikker's beautiful wife, who died giving birth to Newt Hoenikker. According to Dr. Asa Breed, the complications at Newt's birth were the result of a pelvic injury she sustained in a car accident some time before. Breed was a lover of Emily before she got married to Felix.
  • Franklin "Frank" Hoenikker is Felix Hoenikker's son, and Major General of San Lorenzo. He is the brother of Newt and Angela Hoenikker. He is an utterly technically minded person who is unable to make decisions except for giving technical advice. His main hobby is building models.
  • Angela Hoenikker Conners is Felix Hoenikker's daughter and a clarinetist. She is the sister of Frank and Newt Hoenikker, and is married to Harrison C. Conners. In contrast to her midget brother, Angela is unusually tall for a woman. She used to take care of her father after her mother's death and acts as a mother figure to Newt. She and her brothers all have samples of ice-nine, which they found along with their father's body, dead in his chair. She dies when she blows on a clarinet contaminated with Ice-Nine.
  • Bokonon co-founded San Lorenzo (along with Earl McCabe) and created the religion of Bokononism, which he asked McCabe to outlaw. He was born as Lionel Boyd Johnson.
  • Earl McCabe co-founded San Lorenzo and is a marine deserter who ruled San Lorenzo for many years.
  • "Papa" Monzano is the ailing dictator of San Lorenzo. He appoints Frank Hoenikker as his successor, and then commits suicide with a piece of Ice-Nine. He is the adopted father of Mona Monzano.
  • Mona Aamons Monzano is the adopted daughter of "Papa" Monzano, to integrate different races into the harshness of his rule. She is considered "the only beautiful woman on San Lorenzo." She agrees to marry John, but commits suicide with Ice-Nine.
  • Julian Castle is the multi-millionaire ex-owner of Castle Sugar Cooperation, whom John travels to San Lorenzo to interview. He abandoned his business ventures to set up and operate a humanitarian hospital in the jungle of San Lorenzo.
  • H. Lowe Crosby is a bicycle manufacturer John meets on a plane to San Lorenzo. His main goal is to move his factory to San Lorenzo, so he can run it with cheap labour.
  • Hazel Crosby is the wife of H. Lowe Crosby, who asks all the Hoosiers she meets around the globe to call her "Mom."
  • Philip Castle is the son of Julian Castle, and the operator of the hotel Casa Mona on the island on San Lorenzo. He also writes a history of San Lorenzo that the narrator reads on his flight to the island. Bokonon taught both him and Mona when they were young. Through index reading of Castle's book, Claire Minton figures out that he's a homosexual.
  • Horlick Minton is the new American ambassador to San Lorenzo, whom John meets on a plane. He was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer during the McCarthy era.
  • Claire Minton is the wife of the new American ambassador to San Lorenzo, and is an index writer.

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