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Date Black Humor Uses in the Kurt Vonnegut`s Cat`s Cradle


DateBlack Humor Uses in the Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle

Fromthe book Cat’s Cradle, it is clearly shown that the situationsdepicted are in parallel to Vonnegut’s horrific life. He usesirony, satire and black humor to show his views. He has elaboratedthe theme of science and religion but has mocked it through blackhumor. The way he present problems in the society makes a readerlaugh at himself since it shows how life is sarcastic and light.Black humor is defined as combination of gruesome and comedy withhumor and buffoonery to give an annoying effect and convey how lifeis absurd and cruel (Black humor, def. 2).The story begins withJonah, who is planning to write book named &quotThe Day The WorldEnded.&quot The book was to be an account of what importantAmericans had done on the day when the first atomic bomb was droppedon Hiroshima, Japan. Through his research, he writes to NewtHoenikker who was the son of Felix Hoenikker, one of the chiefcreators or so-called &quotFathers&quot of the atomic bomb (6).When Newt replied to the letter, he believed he wouldn`t be much ofhelp due to how young he was on the day the atomic bomb was dropped.Though he was doubtful in his statement, Newt provided some helpfulinformation on who his father, through the very few memories he had.Later in on Jonah is inspired by a magazine to do a story in a SanLorenzo, this is where Frank Hoenikker is established and is alsowhere Jonah is introduced to the Bokononism religion.

Whatis shocking in the book is the way science has been brought out.Science is always known by man as truth and relates truth withgoodness but in Cat’s Cradle, this has been shown to destroymankind and is not a good thing. It has been shown that what isuncovered by the truth science is not supposed to be known by man.Vonnegut writing on the scientists makes a reader look at his or herprofession twice, and one should emulate his views. The view of thetruth destroying man’s life in itself is seen as ironic and areader is made to laugh at such mock.What is appalling also isthe way he has depicted scientists as having no morals for instancewhen Dr. Hoenikker asked about what is a sin ( Vonnegut17). Accordingto Davis, Hoenikker symbolizes Vonnegut’s greatest fear, a man witha brilliant mind who finds means of terminating the world but has nowrong or right concepts of moral values (Davis, 64). It is hilariouson how intelligent scientists with greatest innovations can’t beable to have moral values as shown in the text. In addition, there isa situation where Felix Hoenikker, the scientist, sticks his head outa window to see what the disturbance was, witnesses Angela and Newtrolling on the ground, bawling, and Frank standing over them,laughing. Felix pulls his head back indoors and never even askedlater what had happened, as people weren`t his specialty (17). Felixcouldn`t teach moral values concerning fighting or the fact thatfighting is not ethical.His appalling nature also is shown whenhe describes scientists as childish. Also gives us the example whenFelix stopped working on the atomic bomb due with a curiosity he hadwith turtles, &quotwhen they pull in their heads, do their spinesbuckle or contract? (15)&quot These pet turtles had to be stolen inorder for him to return to his work on the atomic bomb and this showshe cannot care for himself (Vonnegut 71). In addition his daughterdrops from school in order to gather for his needs (71).Thisnovel is funny on the way irresponsibility of Dr. Hoenikker, inventsthe ice nine which melts at 100 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 0degrees Fahrenheit (47). Upon his death, Felix ultimately leaves icenine to his children. Who then took the responsibility of dividing itamong each of them. This ice nine was carelessly used destroying thewhole world by freezing anything that contact with it, which includedpeople and the majority of the earths water supply. He infuriates andannoys by poking at the religion or satirizing it. Instead ofdirectly criticizing Catholics, he uses Bokononism to ridicule thisreligion. This is a religion created by two men namely McCabe andJohnson. (172).They used to get washed up in the shores of SanLorenzo which is a island with many poor and corrupt people and theywere desperate of money and happiness. They ruled and McCabe became atyrant to initiate rebellion while Johnson initiated Bokononism (173)and wrote a book on it. The religion was made popular by McCabebanning religion and Johnson made outlaw. This illustrates how anyonecan write anything and terms it a religion to get followersridiculing the Catholics as if it was written by someone and gotfollowers.The concept of Bokononism is humorous as put in thetext. In this religion, people are referred as mud that God made tosit up (Vonnegut 220). Their rites chants words like&quotAndI was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around&quot and&quotLucky me, lucky mud&quot (Vonnegut 221).It ishumorous for a person on the death bed to get compared with mud andthis shows that the current rituals are absurd. This ritual iscompared to baptism. In addition, there is use of Boko-maru which isa ritual where bare soles of feet of two people are placed togetherin the opposite direction and touching each other as a sign ofmingling awareness. This is absurd think and it compares the currentreligion. Instead of the reader getting offended he is just able tolaugh. He shows how people in the world attempts to find purpose andhappiness in life through religion even if it is all about lies andfalse hopes.Vonnegut has really used a lot of humor, and ironyin his book. Man has attempted to modify the world through religionscience, magic and philosophy pillars to protect from unknownphenomenon but Vonnegut has used satire and irony to tear these down.He uses humor to bring out the dark view of human life without losingthe interest of the audience. He finally shows the society howbackward the things they do through the book Cat’s Cradle.

Igot the information through reading the overview of Cat’s Cradlefrom the secondary sources. The secondary sources of information Iused are:

  1. Kurt Vonnegut’s Use of Humor In Cat’s Cradle retrieved from voices.yahoo.com/kurt-vonneguts-humor-cats-cradle-2299857

  2. Black Humor in Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle retrieved from www.123helpme.com/view.asp?=7670.


&quotBlackhumor.&quot def.2. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd edition. 1989.

Davis,Todd. &quotKurt Vonnegut`s Crusade, or, How a Postmodern HarlequinPreached a New Kind of Humanism.&quot Albany State University of NewYork.

Vonnegut,Kurt. Cat`s Cradle. New York: The Dial Press, 2006.