Human Fallibility Exposed in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle Essay

Oscar Wilde, an acclaimed Irish Poet, novelist, dramatist and critic once aptly commented, “Men become old, but they never become good”. The philosophical aspect of this quote relies on the basis that human beings are inherently malevolent. Through his pessimistic perspective, Wilde clearly captures the ill-disposed mindset of mankind. Moreover, there are various deductive arguments that discredit the optimistic depiction of human nature. One of the prime examples can be found in Kurt Vonnegut’s literature. In Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, through the illustration of his characters, the author symbolizes the four elements of human fallibility.

Through the portrayal of Felix Hoenniker, Vonnegut satirizes that innocence does not necessarily equal harmlessness. In chapter 7, Newton Hoenniker writes about his father to Jonah, “After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, ‘Science has now known sin.’ And do you know what Father said? He said, ‘What is sin?’ (13). Felix’s ignorance toward the moral responsibility that accompanied his nuclear weapons research become blatant. Furthermore, Felix’s lack of judiciousness emblematizes his shallowness. Integrating such a concept promptly fills Vonnegut’s intentions of illustrating the destructive nature of innocence. The author elicits that impeccability found in Felix Hoenniker can be deleterious. In order to understand how these circumstances lead to a worldwide disaster by the end of Cat’s Cradle, it is of paramount importance that one conceives Felix as the epitome of a scientist who researches for knowledge with little or no concern for the application of that knowledge. In chapter 33, …

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…, he equates sexual attraction with “love”; this results in his awkward boko-maru ritual. Mona performs the boku-maru ritual with John, much to his delight. Afterward, they declare their love for one another, and John tries to forbid her to love or perform boku-maru with anyone else (126). Due to his setting of firm rules for Mona, Vonnegut points out John’s haughtiness. This ultimately causes Mona to call him a sin-wat, a man who demands all of someone’s love, and refuses to marry him.

Kurt Vonnegut thoroughly analyzes negative aspects of human nature. Through his constant satire and cynicism, Vonnegut points out how each individual represents various elements of human frailty. A prominent author of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson, pertinently comments on the topic of the psychology of mankind, “The problem with people is that they’re only human”.

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