Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut is a satire on the state of world affairs in the 1960’s. Vonnegut made a commentary in this book on the tendency of humans to be warlike, belligerent, and shortsighted. The main character of the book, the narrator, is certainly not a protagonist, although the modern reader craves a hero in every story and the narrator in this one is the most likely candidate. Through the narrator’s eyes, Vonnegut created a story of black humor ending in the destruction of the earth.
Vonnegut’s writing style throughout the novel is very flip, light, and sarcastic. The narrator’s observations and the events occurring during the novel reflect a dark view of humanity which can only be mocked by humor. At the beginning of the novel the narrator is researching for a book he is writing. The book was to be about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and the lives of the people who created the bomb. The narrator travels through the plot of the story, with characters flying in and out, in almost a daze. He is involved in events which are helplessly beyond his control, but which are inevitably leading to a destination at the end.
The narrator’s lack of control on events brings up one of the main themes of the story which is embodied in a fictitious religion invented by Vonnegut, Bokononism. Bokononism is Vonnegut’s way of describing the main theme of the book, which is that no matter what anyone does, no one can possibly change the incredible stupidity of mankind. Bokononism contends that all religions (including Bokononism) are nothing but a pack of hideous lies which should be completely disregarded. Even with this self-defeating underlying…
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…s. Vonnegut points out truth in the small diversionsof life like the Boko-maru while pointing out the absurdity and falsehood of the large diversions.
The ultimate irony of the book is that no matter what religion you believe in, no matter what acts of goodness you perform, no matter what truth and beauty there is in small idiosyncrasies of life, nothing in the end can save everything from total ruin and pointlessness. The destruction of the world by ice-nine showed Vonnegut’s tendency towards this pessimistic view of the world. No matter what any of the characters wished for or did, the world was destroyed all the same by some incredibly stupid and pointless force called fate, or God, who guided the entire human race through its futile and bloody history simply so one man could lie on the top of Mt. McCabe and commit suicide while thumbing his nose at God.
Free Candide Essays: The Search for Truth
The Search for Truth in Candide
Voltaire’s Candide is a novel which contains conceptual ideas and at the same time is also exaggerated. Voltaire offers sad themes disguised by jokes and witticism, and the story itself presents a distinctive outlook on life. The crucial contrast in the story deals with irrational ideas as taught to Candide about being optimistic, versus reality as viewed by the rest of the world.
The main theme which is presented throughout the novel is optimism. Out of every unfortunate situation in the story, Candide, the main character, has been advised by his philosopher-teacher that everything in the world happens for the better, because “Private misfortunes contribute to the general good, so that the more private misfortunes there are, the more we find that all is well” (Voltaire, p. 31). Pangloss, the philosopher, tries to defend his theories by determining the positive from the negative situations and by showing that misfortunes bring some privileges. As Candide grows up, whenever something unfortunate happens, Pangloss would turn the situation around, bringing out the good in it. Candide learns that optimism is “The passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong ” (Voltaire, p.86).
According to Rene Pomeau, “Voltaire-Candide…have made him [Candide] acquainted with the bad and the good side of human existence. The moral of Candide is born out of its style; it is the art of extracting happiness from the desolate hopping-about of the human insect” (Adams; Pomeau p.137). Pomeau explains that Candide shows both sides of humanity; how both great and terrible events are standard in a human life. Also according to Pomeau, the whole point of the story is to debate between good and bad; for example, as Candide becomes more independent, he starts to doubt that only good comes out of life.
Pangloss is a very hopeful character in the story because he refuses to accept bad. He is also somewhat naive and believes that he could make the world a better place by spreading his theories on optimism. When Candide had met up with Pangloss after a long period of time, Pangloss said that he was almost hanged, then dissected, then beaten. Candide asked the philosopher if he still thought that everything was for the better, and Pangloss replied that he still held his original views. No matter how little Pangloss believed in the fact that somehow everything would turn out well, he still maintained his original views.