Understanding Religion Through Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle Essay

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Understanding Religion Through Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle The following is issued as a warning from the author Kurt Vonnegut to the reader: "Any one unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either"(14). The latter quote is typical of Vonnegut in his usage of creating a personal narrative. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born in Indianapolis, like many of his characters, in 1922. His life from that point on closely resembles the lives of the people in his satirical novel Cat's Cradle. Vonnegut's mother committed suicide when he was twenty two years old and in many of his novels the character of the mother is dead.…show more content…
There are actually three different writers at work in the story. First and foremost is the author Kurt Vonnegut. The narrator he creates in his novel is called John, or Jonah as he tells the reader to refer to him (Vonnegut 1), and he frequently recites passages from The Books of Bokonon written by a fictional religious guru Bokonon (Reed 125). All three hold true to a passage from another of Vonnegut's books "lies told for the sake of artistic effect...can be.. the most beguiling forms of truth"(Vonnegut Editor's Note) Though Jonah is most closely linked to representing Vonnegut, Bokonon is the most interesting character created on the Island of San Lorenzo where most of the book takes place. By having this central yet elusive character invent a religion openly based on lies, Vonnegut demonstrates society's blind dependency on religion: I wanted all things To seem to make some sense, So we all could be happy, yes, Instead of tense. And I made up lies So that they all fit nice, And I made this sad world A par-a-dise (Vonnegut 90) The latter quote describing why Bokonon, christened Lionel Boyd Johnson on the Island of Tobago in 1891 (Vonnegut 74), invented Bokononism is said to be found in Bokonon's "Calypsos", or short poems/songs. When Bokonon was
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