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Cat's Cradle Essay

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Kurt Vonnegut’s striking style left a undeniable mark on mid twentieth century literature. By blending science fiction tropes with impactful social commentary and unorthodox humor he was able to use his particular voice to speak on a wide variety of real topics. Few of his novels have more to say than 1963’s Cat’s Cradle, ostensibly a story about a fantastical invention and its horrifying consequences. Underneath that decidedly pulpy sheen lies a book about religion, truth, purpose, and nuclear war. To unearth these deeper meanings Cat’s Cradle must be examined through the Cold War paranoia, rejection of spirituality, and tenuous grasp on reality that defined its era of postmodernism.

Postmodernism arose from modernism, itself a “criticism of the nineteenth-century bourgeois social order and its worldview.” Born out of apathy for the nineteenth century ideals of realism and traditionalism modernism was a cultural movement that encompassed art, music, philosophy, religion, science, and literature. These disparate fields were united by the central forward-thinking tenets of Modernist thought represented most concisely by
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Although he is dead by the time the novel’s events take place, Hoenikker’s influence is felt throughout the whole story. This importance is not unwarranted since he is the father of both the atomic bomb and of Ice-nine, the substance at the heart of the novel’s central conflict. The problem lies in how he views science as a whole. Hoenikker approaches all research with an air of giddiness and almost childlike glee, seeming to not even consider how his inventions might be used to cause destruction. His comment "Why should I bother with made-up games when there are so many real ones going on?" reveals how trivially he views the impact of his creations. Even his office, strewn with children’s toys, speaks to a moral immaturity at the core of his
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