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Customer Review

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny, Philosophical, Superb Romp-to-the-end., November 21, 2000
This review is from: Cat's Cradle: A Novel (Paperback)
Vonnegut writes the book with the question that "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" plays with on a different level, all the while throwing in philosophies, wit, and things to ponder on and about during the COLD WAR.
The narrator (first-person incompetent) is somewhat vacant, and being so, maneuvers the story the best way possible.
The narrator is writing a book on the atomic bomb and he travels about meeting strange people who know the creators of the bomb. The characters he meets are funny and strange (You would have to be an oddball to be toying with doomsday.). In his journey he finds the sons and daughter of the inventor of the A-bomb. He finds that these three are an eccentric and foolish trio. The daughter and sons hold with them ice-nine, a weapon that makes the a-bomb seem infantile. Ice-nine was an attempt by their father to make battlefields (mud) solidify, making battle easier on soldiers. It winds up making any moisture it touches solid and blue, but its one flaw is, once put into the atmosphere it regenerates without stopping, freezing everything in its path(including human beings).
Vonnegut throws in the element of Bokononism, a quirky, weird religion spawned by an eccentric, self-made prophet named Bokonon. This angle plays in the mind of the reader as it debases the relevancy of all religions, thus, for example, making Catholicism or Islam just as strange as Bokononism. Bokononists chant about man being born of the "mud."
Symbolically the three children holding ice-nine, a single flake of which will end mankind as we know it, stand for three world superpowers. It shows that anyone, no matter how high in power, can be foolish, and should have no access to such an element of destruction. The ice-nine is just a symbol of the end of mankind through the folly of science, for the ice-nine turns things bluish white, like ice--putting man in another ice-age, destroying all "mud". The island of San Lorenzo is like Cuba--through its history no one really cared about anyone else ceasing it, but since there is an odd belief there(Bokononism/Communism),people poke around there now. It shows how such a small place, like Cuba, in the Cold War, could be ground-zero for the end of humanity, and warns against intervention there.
Being that the Cold War is over, this is an era piece that some may think is stagnate. Yet the tools to end civilization are still out there, so this book is relevant as long as science and government have and look for a greater means of destruction.
Though this book is funny and eccentric on surface, it is ultimately found to be a political warning. This humorous look at what could be the end, parallels Orwell's "Nineteen-Eighty-Four" in the field of political writing for the sake of warning (Orwell warns about the threat of Totalitarianism, Vonnegut warns about man's acute closeness to his own demise). This book is not as hard-nosed as "Nineteen-Eighty-Four." It is funny, but this is done to show the folly and incompetence that mankind's demise is handled with: Vonnegut's use of juxtaposition is without flaw.
Bokonon adds a religious facet to this novel. He ultimately shows folly and incompetence in the creation of something other than doomsday devices--religion. After the reader drops the hypocrisy of thinking their religion is "the one," Vonnegut brings up the question: Were people like Jesus or Mohammed just fools out spreading nonsense for the sake of an ego-trip?
This book touches on so many intense questions. It puts forth a vehicle for such deep introspection, yet it is hilarious. I only wish I were to have read this in the mind set of the world in the early sixties, when this book was first published. Vonnegut was way ahead of his time with this one. His writing, when dissected, makes me think he is one of the great thinkers of the twentieth-century into the twenty-first...
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2014 9:37:19 AM PST
Avid Reader says:
Spot-on analysis. Thanks.
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