Vonnegutian Themes Essay Research Paper Kurt Vonnegut

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Vonnegutian Themes Essay, Research Paper Kurt Vonnegut has written more then twenty books in the years he has been writing. Many of his books share characters, settings, or situations. Using the same characters and such creates a unity throughout his books. Likewise, Vonnegut seems to repeat themes throughout many of his books. A number of Vonnegut s books deal with themes that include structure and order in society. Kurt Vonnegut discusses mankind s need for structure and order by the creation of meaningless associations in his novels and schizophrenic traits in his characters. Cat s Cradle, written in 1963, revolves around created relationships and groups. Set in the small island of San Lorenzo, it is the story of a chemical that can end the world. It is quickly learned

upon arrival at San Lorenzo that nearly all inhabitants practice Bokonism, a religion based solely on lies, Bokonism is a blatant opiate to blind people to the misery around them (Giannone 69.) In the books of Bokonon, it is plainly stated to the readers that the religion is centered on lies, one of the verses proclaims, I wanted all things to be happy/to seem to make some sense/so we could all be happy, yes/instead of tense/and I made up lies/so that they all fit nice/and I made this sad world/into a paradise (Vonnegut, Cat s Cradle 127.) The followers of Bokonism are ignorant to the lies they are following and see the religion as a positive aspect as it unites San Lorenzans. Different circumstances soon make it obvious that Bokonism is illegal. The Christian nation of San

Lorenzo outlawed the practice of the religion many years ago, before exiling the creator, Bokonon. Bokonon, a highly intelligent and manipulative man was the mastermind behind outlawing his own religion. His exile was simply a disappearance into the wilderness, to give the religion more zest and appeal to the followers and to create a common struggle of religious freedom throughout San Lorenzo (Giannone 60.) The citizens of San Lorenzo feel closer to one another and part of a bigger whole with Bokonism. Being able to practice their forbidden religion with each other makes them feel more in control of their lives. Control is something many San Lorenzans need in their life due to the controlling government. Vonnegut uses the need for control and other schizophrenic traits in the

characters of Cat s Cradle. Frank, the only child of the mastermind behind ice-nine whose appearances seem normal displays signs of schizophrenia through out his life. Beginning in high school, when Frank Hoeniker disregards his family and focuses his entire life to the hobby shop, warning signs can be noticed. Young Frank believes his family will not be hurt by his rejection of their love, he does not venture to think the husband of the woman he is sleeping with will be hurt by his actions. Those afflicted by schizophrenia typically believe their actions matter no further than themselves, though selfish, it is an honest belief of those afflicted (Tufano 156.) Another case of schizophrenia is observed in Papa, the head of San Lorenzo. Papa s case is the extreme of Frank Hoeniker

s. As Papa prepares to ingest the lethal chemical, ice-nine, he declares to his assistant that the world will end with his impending death. According to many doctors, certain types of schizophrenics believe that their life is vital to the world, that their death will bring death and destruction to all. (Mental Health Network.) To schizophrenics, the idea that their vitality is critical to everyone else gives an enormous amount of control. One of Vonnegut s most acclaimed novels, Breakfast of Champions, written in 1973, ten years after Cat s Cradle, also employs many of the same themes. Throughout Breakfast of Champions, many of the characters try to feign relationships to belong to a group or any association for a feeling of acceptance. One of the main storylines in Breakfast of