The mysteries that the human life is full of are really enormous. The more attempts to solve the riddle we make the more complex and intricate they appear to be. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut is a treasury of such mysteries. Each page of the book states a new problem to solve, but the author does not even give a hint on how this can be done.
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From the very beginning of the book the problem of evil begins to torment the reader. What is the essence of evil? Where does it come from? And, where is the borderline between the evil and the society development that modern technologies enhance?
The book is aimed at making the reader think about the consequences that modern civilization holds in its store. The invention of the atomic bomb in August 1945 and its dropping on Hiroshima shook the world. The work under consideration is the author’s flesh back to the past with foreseeing the events of the future.
The inventor of the atomic bomb, Felix Hoenikker, though dead already, is one of the main characters of the science fiction novel. The person who managed to approach the humanity to the global disaster looks as a picture of innocence in the book. Occupied with the turtles, reluctant to deal with one’s own children, this person still does not present any malicious intentions. But what strikes the reader is that the interest that Hoenikker has for turtles is the same as he has for the atomic bomb. It turns out that there is no distinction between the inanimate world and the humanity for Hoenikker. Here is the root of evil and this is in this indifference the disaster comes from.
We are also inclined to believe that spiritual essence of each man’s character may determine the future of the whole generation. When it came out that America could destroy the entire city, and the atomic bomb was recognized as the universal sin, the inventor could not even define what the evil is.
The absurdity of the situation is that in most cases the evil is created by those who do not intend to do it. The play with a string led to the invention of the atomic bomb. Isn’t this fact a ridiculous and horrifying at the same time?
The author managed to render this dubious feeling in his book. On the one hand, Hoenikker succeeded in the creation of a toy for a child, on the other – in the creation of a nuclear weapon for the humanity. Two things so different in their nature but so similar in their purpose determine the destiny of the humanity. Actually, the atomic bomb itself is a toy in the hands of the powerful men. According to the author’s position that is not obvious but implied, the responsibility for the toy’s invention lies not only on its “father” but on those who failed to resist the promising opportunities of this invention.
One book cannot solve the problem of evil in the world as well as it cannot ruin the universal consequences of malice. But the significance of the work under consideration consists in the very attempt to find a counteraction to the effects of evil, as the reader’s assumption of it changes enormously when the book is being read.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle. Dell Publishing, 1998.