Cat's Cradle

Organized Religion in Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle: See God? See Satan?

"See the cat? See the cradle?" retorts the midget Newt in an attempt to explain the inspiration for a grotesque and confounding painting of his. This singular quote is the namesake for Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle, and embodies the leitmotif of this tongue-in-cheek canon on religion, sex, politics, and everything in between. In the years following its publication, Vonnegut's novel became fodder for the counterculture movement of the 1960's because it countered the restrictive societal norms of mainstream culture. Among the institutions he attacks throughout the novel, religion is the most conspicuous. Vonnegut dissects the very human inclination to have something to believe in, questioning not only the nature of organized religion, but its validity and role in society. Vonnegut creates a picturesque island named San Lorenzo, whose national religion is the work of a nihilistic poet. Vonnegut uses this religion, called "Bokononism", as a vehicle for the revelation (no pun intended) that religion is as substantial as a "cat's cradle."

Vonnegut introduces the "cat's cradle" as a metaphor for different interpretations of life. "A cat's cradle is nothing...

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