Similarities between Henry James and James Baldwin

Disclaimer: I’ve never read anything by Henry James.  I may have read something by him for a survey class but I honestly don’t remember.  Anyway, I found this really interesting article about James and Baldwin on LION called “(An)Other Modernism: James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, and the Rhetoric of Flight” by Cyraina Johnson-Roullier. Henry James was […]

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Pulling on Strings in Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Cat’s Cradle, is a writer that can often leave audiences perplexed, but by looking into some of his theories on storytelling, perhaps we can understand his stylistic choices. In the video displayed above, Vonnegut fleshes out a structuralist theory to well-known folklores and bedtime stories. Structuralist theories assert that there are universal patterns that […]

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Indexing the Index

In a book, one is likely to find publishing information, a table of contents, the actual contents, a list of references, and sometimes an index. In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Cat’s Cradle, one of the minor characters says that she can tell more about a famous person in a book from what the index says about them […]

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Vonnegut as a Satirist

When reading Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, I couldn’t help but think of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal for some reason. I realized the reason was the similar beginning plot from Gulliver’s–a traveler/journalist type guy tells about the history of his life and then begins a journey to a strange place(in Swift’s Travels it ends up […]

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Ice-9 Ballads

Throughout Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut wrote short lyrics that came up with his invented religion Bokononism. They are all supposedly from the writings of Bokonon, the leader/creator of the religion and are used to explain his ideals and beliefs. Before his death in 2007, Vonnegut collaborated with composer Dave Soldier to create an album based on […]

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A Sacred Obligation

Throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle religion seems to be used as a tool to prevent people from realizing that everything has not meaning and to provide people with some sort of hope. In chapter 103 the people and visitors of San Lorenzo  are gathered for the annual event in honor of the Hundred  men from […]

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West and Vonnegut – Satires of Dead Theodicy

Just as Nathaneal West did in “Miss Lonelyhearts”, Kurt Vonnegut uses humor as a tool to place mankind in a position where it are able to face the consequences of human ignorance, as well as a way to diminish the search for purpose and justification behind human suffering. The satirical Hoenikker children represent the different implications of being […]

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The Theatrics of Mortality

In 2008 Cat’s Cradle was adapted into a Calypso musical by the United Theatre #61 of New York City. UT#61 is a known company, for taking literary works and refashioning them according to their contextual themes for the stage. The Calypso makeover of Vonnegut’s work was a fresh and creative revision of the inevitable doom looming […]

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“No Damn Cat, and No Damn Cradle.”

What I think it significant about the conversation between Jonah and Newt is the fact that there is a false symbolism at play.  Newt sees things differently than his father did.  While the string game is only supposed to resemble a cat’s cradle, Newt takes his father’s name for the game more literally.  However, the […]

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Irving Langmuir: The Model for Felix Hoenikker

In an interview with The Nation in 1980, Vonnegut shared that the model for Dr. Felix Hoenikker in Cat’s Cradle was chemist and physicist Irving Langmuir, who worked with Vonnegut’s brother Bernard. Vonnegut interviewed Langmuir while working in the public relations department at General Electric, and was struck by Langmuir’s indifference “to the uses that might be […]

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