Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What does the narrator say made him "a Jonah"?

  2. 2

    How did the stone angel in Marvin Breed's tombstone shop serve as a vin-dit for Jonah?

  3. 3

    In Dr. Breed's opinion, what is the purpose of pure research? How does this purpose compare with other people's understanding of science and the work of Felix Hoenikker? Consider the viewpoints of Miss Pefko, Miss Faust, Marvin Breed, and Bokonon.

  4. 4

    Discuss the role of the karass and the granfalloon in the execution of God's will in the novel. Use examples of both relationships to demonstrate whether one is more important than the other in communicating points about the nature of human relationships and love.

  5. 5

    Analyze how fulfilling their desires, or at least attempting to do so, either did or did not bring happiness to Vonnegut's characters.

  6. 6

    How is Felix Hoenikker innocent? How is he not innocent? To what extent does a scientist's treatment of his work and the people with whom he interacts involve moral issues? Can or should science be a totally amoral, even inhuman, pursuit?

  7. 7

    One of the tenets of Bokononism is that all human pursuits are useless. Does Bokononism itself fall under this category? Why or why not? Do the basic principles of a religion or a political system function differently for the founders than for the followers?

  8. 8

    Discuss "Papa" Monzano's decision to use ice-nine to commit suicide. Was it a good idea, and does it appear that he knew that his decision would lead to the destruction of the world?

  9. 9

    The idea of Dynamic Tension is central to the survival of Bokononism. Define Dynamic Tension, show how Bokonon maintained it on San Lorenzo, and indicate whether its presence is really necessary for religion or for enjoying one's life.

  10. 10

    The Hundred Martyrs of Democracy died before they had even had an opportunity to fight in the Second World War. Is their contribution to the war effort more or less important than that of other soldiers? Is it more or less important than that of Felix Hoenikker?

  11. 11

    Individual control and destiny are often portrated as competing forces in the novel. In your opinion, which of these is more important in determining characters' plight in the novel? How is this discussion complicated by recognizing that Vonnegut, as author, makes the choices that control the characters and the plot? Does an author make every choice for himself, or is he ultimately constrained by factors such as making the narrative believable--as though even the author does not have full control over the novel?