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Cat’s Cradle By: Kurt Vonnegut In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor has written, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because it is the only way to make people see.” Kurt Vonnegut writes pessimistic novels, or at least he did back in the sixties. Between Slaughterhouse Five, Mother Night, and Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut paints a cynical and satirical picture of the degradation of society using distortion as the primary means to express himself. In Cat’s Cradle, the reader is confronted with the story of the narrator, John, as he attempts to gather material to write a book on the human aspect of the day Japan was bombed. As the story progresses, he finds that becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish reality from illusion. He meets up with a midget, a dictator, and a nation’s object of lust as his journey progresses, and he eventually ends up the sole leader of a remote island and witnesses the end of the world. Using implausible stories and unbelievable characters and situations to convey his message, Vonnegut’s utilization of literary distortion allows him to move the reader and prove his point in a far greater way than he could by just blatantly shouting his opinions. “Anyone unable to understand how useful a religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either”(16), states the narrator, concerning Cat’s Cradle. Throughout the text, Vonnegut uses the religion of Bokononism, which is a fictitious faith founded on the basis of deception, to establish that people can prosper and be happy under false beliefs. When two men founded the island nation of San Lorenzo, Cat’s Cradle’s model for society, it was decided by them that the only way to keep starving natives from revolting was to create a religion focusing on the individual and then outlaw it. By doing this, the people could “all employed fu...

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