Vonnegut, Kurt – Cat’s Cradle



1. The Day the World Ended

2. Nice, Nice, Very Nice

3. Folly

4. A Tentative Tangling of Tendrils

5. Letter from a Pie-med

6. Bug Fights

7. The Illustrious Hoenikkers

8. Newt’s Thing with Zinka

9. Vice-president in Charge of Volcanoes

10. Secret Agent X-9

11. Protein

12. End of the World Delight

13. The Jumping-off Place

14. When Automobiles Had Cut-glass Vases

15. Merry Christmas

16. Back to Kindergarten

17. The Girl Pool

18. The Most Valuable Commodity on Earth

19. No More Mud

20. Ice-nine

21. The Marines March On

22. Member of the Yellow Press

23. The Last Batch of Brownies

24. What a Wampeter Is

25. The Main Thing About Dr. Hoenikker

26. What God Is

27. Men from Mars

28. Mayonnaise

29. Gone, but Not Forgotten

30. Only Sleeping

31. Another Breed

32. Dynamite Money

33. An Ungrateful Man

34. Vin-dit

35. Hobby Shop

36. Meow

37. A Modem Major General

38. Barracuda Capital of the World

39. Fata Morgana

40. House of Hope and Mercy

41. A Karass Built for Two

42. Bicycles for Afghanistan

43. The Demonstrator

44. Communist Sympathizers

45. Why Americans Are Hated

46. The Bokononist Method for Handling Caesar

47. Dynamic Tension

48. Just Like Saint Augustine

49. A Fish Pitched Up by an Angry Sea

50. A Nice Midget

51. O.K., Mom

52. No Pain

53. The President of Fabri-Tek

54. Communists, Nazis, Royalists,

Parachutists, and Draft Dodgers

55. Never Index Your Own Book

56. A Self-supporting Squirrel Cage

57. The Queasy Dream

58. Tyranny with a Difference

59. Fasten Your Seat Belts

60. An Underprivileged Nation

61. What a Corporal Was Worth

62. Why Hazel Wasn’t Scared

63. Reverent and Free

64. Peace and Plenty

65. A Good Time to Come to San Lorenzo

66. The Strongest Thing There Is

67. Hy-u-o-ook-kuh!

68. Hoon-yera Mora-toorz

69. A Big Mosaic

70. Tutored by Bokonon

71. The Happiness of Being an American

72. The Pissant Hilton

73. Black Death

74. Cat’s Cradle

75. Give My Regards to Albert Schweitzer

76. Julian Castle Agrees with Newt

that Everything Is Meaningless

77. Aspirin and Boko-maru

78. Ring of Steel

79. Why McCabe’s Soul Grew Coarse

80. The Waterfall Strainers

81. A White Bride for the Son of a Pullman Porter

82. Zah-mah-ki-bo

83. Dr. Schlichter von Koenigswald Approaches

the Break-even Point

84. Blackout

85. A Pack of Foma

86. Two Little Jugs

87. The Cut of My Jib

88. Why Frank Couldn’t Be President

89. Duffle

90. Only One Catch

91. Mona

92. On the Poet’s Celebration of his First Boko-maru

93. How I Almost Lost My Mona

94. The Highest Mountain

95. I See the Hook

96. Bell, Book, and Chicken in a Hatbox

97. The Stinking Christian

98. Last Rites

99. Dyot meet mat

100. Down the Oubliette Goes Frank

101. Like My Predecessors, I Outlaw Bokonon

102. Enemies of Freedom

103. A Medical Opinion on the Effects of a Writers’ Strike

104. Sulfathiazole

105. Pain-killer

106. What Bokononists Say When They Commit Suicide

107. Feast Your Eyes!

108. Frank Tells Us What to Do

109. Frank Defends Himself

110. The Fourteenth Book

111. Time Out

112. Newt’s Mother’s Reticule

113. History

114. When I Felt the Bullet Enter My Heart

115. As It Happened

116. The Grand Ah-whoom

117. Sanctuary

118. The Iron Maiden and the Oubliette

119. Mona Thanks Me

120. To Whom It May Concern

121. I Am Slow to Answer

122. The Swiss Family Robinson

123. Of Mice and Men

124. Frank’s Ant Farm

125. The Tasmanians

126. Soft Pipes, Play On

127. The End

cat’s cradle

The Day the World Ended 1

Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John.

Jonah—John—if I had been a Sam, I would have been a Jonah still—not because I have been unlucky for others, but because somebody or something has compelled me to be certain places at certain times, without fail. Conveyances and motives, both conventional and bizarre, have been provided. And, according to plan, at each appointed second, at each appointed place this Jonah was there.


When I was a younger man—two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quarts of booze ago.

When I was a much younger man, I began to collect material for a book to be called The Day the World Ended.

The book was to be factual.

The book was to be an account of what important Americans had done on the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

It was to be a Christian book. I was a Christian then.

I am a Bokononist now.

I would have been a Bokononist then, if there had been anyone to teach me the bittersweet lies of Bokonon. But Bokononism was unknown beyond the gravel beaches and coral knives that ring this little island in the Caribbean Sea, the Republic of San Lorenzo.

We Bokononists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God’s Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that brought me into my own particular karass was the book I never finished, the book to be called The Day the World Ended.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice 2

“If you find your life tangled up with somebody else’s life for no very logical reasons,” writes Bokonon, “that person may be a member of your karass.”

At another point in The Books of Bokonon he tells us, “Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass.” By that he means that a karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries.

It is as free-form as an amoeba.

In his “Fifty-third Calypso,” Bokonon invites us to sing along with him:

Oh, a sleeping drunkard

Up in Central Park,

And a lion-hunter

In the jungle dark,

And a Chinese dentist,

And a British queen—

All fit together

In the same machine.

Nice, nice, very nice;

Nice, nice, very nice;

Nice, nice, very nice—

So many different people

In the same device.

Folly 3

Nowhere does Bokonon warn against a person’s trying to discover the limits of his karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do. Bokonon simply observes that such investigations are bound to be incomplete.

In the autobiographical section of The Books of Bokanon he writes a parable on the folly of pretending to discover, to understand:

I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.

And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, “I’m sorry, but I never could read one of those things.”

“Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God,” I said, “and, when God finds a minute, I’m sure he’ll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand.”

She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.

She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].

A Tentative Tangling of Tendrils 4

Be that as it may, I intend in this book to include as many members of my karass as possible, and I mean to examine all strong hints as to what on Earth we, collectively, have been up to.

I do not intend that this book be a tract on behalf of Bokononism. I should like to offer a Bokononist warning about it, however. The first sentence in The Books of Bokonon is this:

“All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.”

My Bokononist warning is this:

Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.

So be it.

About my karass, then.

It surely includes the three children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the so-called “Fathers” of the first atomic bomb. Dr. Hoenikker himself was no doubt a member of my karass, though he was dead before my sinookas, the tendrils of my life, began to tangle with those of his children.

The first of his heirs to be touched by my sinookas was Newton Hoenikker, the youngest of his three children, the younger of his two sons. I learned from the publication of my fraternity, The Delta Upsilon Quarterly, that Newton Hoenikker, son of the Nobel Prize physicist, Felix Hoenikker, had been pledged by my chapter, the Cornell Chapter.

So I wrote this letter to Newt:

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Categories: Vonnegut, Kurt