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Cat’s Cradle No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of x’s between somebody’s hands. “Yeah, no damn cat, and no damn cradle.”

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Presentation on theme: "Cat’s Cradle No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of x’s between somebody’s hands. “Yeah, no damn cat, and no damn cradle.”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Cat’s Cradle No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of x’s between somebody’s hands. “Yeah, no damn cat, and no damn cradle.”

2 About the author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

3  Born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana  His parents were wealthy, but the Depression’s impact on their fortunes forced Vonnegut to attend a public high school.  He later attended Cornell and studied biochemistry. He found a great deal more enjoyment as a columnist and editor for the Cornell Daily Sun.  He was expelled for his poor academic performance.  Vonnegut enlisted in the U.S. Army  Vonnegut’s experiences as a soldier had a profound impact on his writing and philosophy.  His mother, who has a long history of mental instability, committed suicide in 1944 while Vonnegut was away at war.  Vonnegut was captured by the Germans in the battle of the Bulge. The forced him along with other POWs, to work in a factory in Dresden.  The Allied forces firebombed the city while Vonnegut and the others took shelter in the meat locker of a slaughterhouse.

4  The bombing of Dresden yielded a death toll of over a defenseless civilians in a matter hours: greater than the initial death count of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.  The scene of senseless misery and mass destruction at Dresden played a key role in Vonnegut's development of pacifist views.pacifist  It would be 20 years before Vonnegut could bring himself to write about the experience in Slaughterhouse-Five, published at the height of the Vietnam War.  When Vonnegut returned to the U.S., he worked as a journalist. After his master’s thesis was rejected, he traveled to Schenectady, NY, where he took a job with General Electric. He quite and began teaching English and began writing novels that heavily influenced the 1960s counter-culture generation.  After a failed suicide attempt in 1984, Vonnegut continued to publish novels that provide often hilarious, often macabre, and always sobering explorations of the dangers inherent in the combination of human folly and mankind's technological capacity for mass destruction.  Vonnegut passed away April 11, 2007

5 Social Concerns “Science has now known sin.” “What is sin?” Cat’s Cradle is an excellent example of Vonnegut’s existentialism, a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in…[an] indifferent universe, [and] regards human existence as unexplainable (Bookshelf’94). They believe that the universe is meaningless and each person must exist for oneself. Cat’s Cradle published in the wake of the Cold War weapons buildup and the tensions of the Cuban missile crisis, focuses on man’s ability to destroy life on earth.

6 Book of Jonah The Book of Jonah Vonnegut draws parallels to the biblical Book of Jonah in Cat's Cradle as a way of supporting themes about the incomprehensibility of God's plan and the inability of man to resist destiny. In the Bible, Jonah lives near the city of Nazareth. God commands him to travel to another city named Nineveh to prophesy to the people their impending destruction if they do not change their sinful ways. Jonah, however, angrily resists. He attempts to flee to Tarshish on a ship, but God sends a storm to interrupt the voyage. The other shipmen are frightened and entreat their gods to save them in light of this disaster. They find Jonah asleep in the sides of the ship, and the shipmaster asks him to also pray to his god for salvation. Soon the shipmen discover that Jonah is the reason for their danger, and they decide to throw Jonah into the ocean at his suggestion. Jonah is then swallowed by an ocean creature, usually interpreted as a whale, and he survives in its belly for three days. He prays to God for his release, and Jonah is vomited from the mouth of the whale.JonahCat's Cradle When he is released from the whale, again the Lord directs him to Nineveh. Jonah obeys and prophesies their destruction in forty days if they do not repent, so the people fast and wear sackcloth to show their penitence. Jonah, still an angry fellow, is unhappy at the idea of God saving the people of Nineveh, so he leaves the city and sits upon a hill to see whether God will destroy it or not. While he is sitting there, God causes a gourd to grow above his head so that he might have shade. Jonah is glad for this gourd, but God then causes a worm to kill the gourd and the sun beats upon Jonah's head (creating the joke that things are now too hot for the hot-headed man). Jonah wishes for death, because he believes it better for him to be dead than alive, and he is very angry that the gourd died. God confronts Jonah and asks why he values the gourd more than the people of Nineveh, since the people of Nineveh cannot distinguish between their right hand and their left hand.

7 The Book of Jonah has been important in theologians' interpretation of the ideas of destiny and God's will. Jonah is intent on defying God and following his own desires, but he is unable to resist God's divine plan. God used Jonah as he saw fit, and he remained unchanged by Jonah's desire to be uninvolved in the salvation of Nineveh. Further, it is important to note that although the people of Nineveh are sinful, they are given the opportunity to repent and gain salvation through the grace of God. Because the people of Nineveh were ignorant of their sin, God proclaimed them worthy of mercy as long as they chose to repent for their transgressions. Most scholars believe the story of Jonah is fictitious because the idea of being swallowed by a whale seems so fantastic. Yet, there have been documented cases of humans being subject to similar plights, such as the seaman who was swallowed by a sperm whale in the 1900s near the Falkland Islands. Although he had damage to his skin and was unconscious when he was recovered, he managed to survive being inside the whale for three days. Jonah is often interpreted as a figure for Christ, a view that was first proposed by Augustine. As Jesus would be, Jonah was taken from the world for three days and returned after that period with a message of salvation for the people.

8 Themes o The Threat of Technology : the overriding theme of the narrator’s warning that if technological advancement continues without a concurrent growth in ethical awareness, annihilation of the human race is a real possibility. This of course, parallels the biblical story of Jonah who so vividly prophesies the destruction of Nineveh that ht e city repents and is spared by God. Vonnegut show that intellect harbors the temptation to rule over life, death, and nature, and he hopes that his novel will have the cautionary effect of Jonah’s prophecy.

9 The confrontation between technology and morality o is represented in the book by the two primary settings: Ilium, is the city of science, a world of materialistic absolutism in which scientists create in a moral vacuum: San Lorenzo is an island of belief, a tyrannical and hopelessly impoverished island nation in which the religion of Bokononism has been created to provide “dynamic tension” that will distract the people from the oppression and material suffering that mark their lives.

10 The Rejection of Truth as Innately Good Vonnegut often juxtaposes science and religion in Cat's Cradle. He characterizes science as a form of discovering truth, while he characterizes religion as a form of creating lies. Despite this negative depiction of religion, Vonnegut's most severe criticisms are reserved for science and its goal of seeking and discovering truth. Vonnegut attacks the idea that truth is innately desirable and good, seeing it as a pervasive belief in our culture. He describes a realistic world in which truth is used for material and personal gain without concern for the lasting effects those truths will have on humanity. “Don’t be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!”

11 Salvation in Lies Vonnegut presents religion as more useful and less dangerous than science, despite its paradoxes and shortcomings. In the novel, religion is beneficial not because it conveys some truth about the world, but rather because it gives people elaborate lies in which to believe. Bokonon's lies prove more liberating than the Hoenikkers' truths, because his lies have the means for making men feel better about their lack of purpose and destitute existence. One of Bokononism's central ideas is that man has always been responsible for giving life meaning, since it inherently lacks meaning. Thus, the possibility of happiness exists in this world if only man gives life the "right" meanings. Bokononism's purpose is to provide people with better and better lies

12 Desire and Happiness The theme of desire and its effect on happiness provides some of the most lugubrious if not fully tragic moments in the novel. Frank's primary desire was to create a world that he could orchestrate technically, like that of the model town he built in Ilium. He pursued this desire to the destruction of the human race, because he used his father's ice-nine to bribe "Papa" Monzano for power. Angela desired a companion after being left alone by her brothers and deceased father, but she was so desperate that she could not see that Harrison Conners was using her for her piece of ice-nine. She thus found herself stuck in a loveless marriage. Newt, likewise, was searching for love. His desire for a companion allowed him to be fooled by a Ukrainian spy into thinking that she was half her actual age and in love with him, which allowed her to steal a piece of his ice-nine. All of the Hoenikkers were given the opportunity to make their greatest desires come true, but when they got what they asked for in some form or another, none of them became happy. The reader ends up with the suggestion that it is better to want nothing at all, as though all human pursuits really are meaningless and nothing can bring happiness.

13 The Futility of Human Pursuits When Julian Castle throws Newt Hoenikker's painting into the waterfall on Mount McCabe, he does so to make a point about the meaninglessness of life. Newt had painted a cat's cradle as a symbol of the pointless games that adults teach children, ascribing meaning to them when there is none. Castle took it a step further when he acknowledged that even making commentary on the meaninglessness of these activities was a waste of time, because the world does not learn or benefit from experience. When Vonnegut depicts Bokonon as a holy wanderer finding nothing but junk, lies, and idiocy, he is talking about the creations of humanity and their attempts to convince themselves and others of the importance of their pursuits. Bokonon laughs when he thinks of these fools, because human pursuits will never matter, and it will never even matter whether he laughs or cries.

14 Interpersonal Relationships Most of the characters in the novel were involved in a number of interpersonal relationships took the form of specific groups. These "karasses" and "granfalloons" had differing degrees of importance, and because it was almost impossible for a human to know the limits of one's karass or the work it was supposed to do on Earth, many characters placed an undue amount of importance on the granfalloons in their lives. Often, Jonah would note some of the superficial characteristics he and other characters had in common, such as his and Newt's ties to Delta Upsilon. Hazel Crosby was a perfect example of humans' overemphasis on granfalloons, in that she took an unnatural pride in the number of successful Hoosiers she met. In contrast, the Mintons never mentioned any granfalloons of which they might be members and were proud members of the only duprass in the novel. Their seeming concern with only their God- given team exempted them from the comical light in which other groups were portrayed, almost as if their perfect union exempted them from other human flaws.


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