Talk:Cat's Cradle

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What does a karass have to do with God's Will?[edit]

I don't understand the definitions of karass and granfalloon. What do they have to do with God's will? I'd say a karass is a set of people with a characteristic propetry in opposition to a granfalloon which is just a meaningless arbitrary set of people.

Here's how it is described at - "A group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner, even when superficial linkages are not evident." If I remember correctly (it's been a long time since I read the book) the people in the karass find themselves sometimes acting out of their ordinary character, yet in concert to accomplish a goal; a goal unknown to any of the members of the karass (that's what makes it "God's will"). You hang out with a certain bunch, but can't really figure out why that particular group is "right" for you, but you feel good about it nonetheless. - Bevo 22:40, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Why use urbandictionary when one can just use the author's definition provided in the text? I have the book right here... A karass is a "team that does God's Will without [the members of the karass] ever discovering what they are doing." Also, "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons... that person may be a member of your karass." Artemisstrong (talk) 18:21, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Non-Fictional Ice-9[edit]

Text previously included the following, which I'm fairly sure is wrong. Evidence to the contrary anyone? Palfrey 20:39, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Non-fictional Ice-9
There is a real substance also called ice-9 named after Kurt Vonneguts fictional Ice-9 because it has many of the same characteristics except that it doesn’t chain react as the fictional ice-9 does. The non-fictional Ice-9 is used in the oceans off the coast of Alaska to build cheap oil mining platforms. These oil mining platform can even be sailed down to tropical climates without melting and the Ice-9 is harder and stronger than steel. I found this in Reader’s Digest.

The bit on Richard Kelly may be off. See

There is a man-made substance called Pykrete, which is made of sawdust and ice: it has a very slow melting-rate, is extremely strong and doesn't chain-react with ordinary water. The substance described in the excerpt sounds a lot like Pykrete. Geoffrey C Vargo

Modest Mouse[edit]

" * The band Modest Mouse recorded a song entitled Secret Agent X-9 which appeared on the album Sad Sappy Sucker." Why was this removed?--TheCooperman 12:06, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Why shouldn't it have been removed? - 23:37, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

It's a cultural reference to the book like most other things in the "trivia" section. I say it should be there.


Is there any criticism that suggests that ice nine is allegorical for something?

It is indeed entirely possible that it is suggestive of man's pursuit of self destruction. (H-bomb + ice nine) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:24, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Hoenikker-Oppenheimer connection[edit]

The several paragraphs outlining possible similarities between Felix Hoenikker and Robert Oppenheimer seem to be extremely speculative and to me most of the points seem like quite a stretch. Is such a long discussion of this possible connection even necessary? Michael Sappir (Talk) 15:05, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I wish that people would stop changing Teller and Ulam to Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer even has a speaking role in Cat's Cradle, although is not identified by name on page 25 of Cat's Cradle. Hoenikker *is* a composite of Teller's psychopathic personality and Ulam's odd manifestations of OCD. The research is so basic as to be unnecessary. Slagathor

And what we can learn from this, is that there was no shortage of sinister guys with Hungarian / East-German accents hanging round science institutions in the USA, in the years after WWII. (talk) 10:48, 11 September 2017 (UTC)
Is Oppenheimer the one who says: "Science has now known sin."? Geoffrey C Vargo 00:30, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Yeah. Vonnegut is paraphrasing Oppenheimer saying: “In some sort of crude sense, which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.” Logically, if Oppenheimer is speaking in Cat's Cradle, then he isn't Hoenikker.Slagathor (talk) 23:09, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Vonnegut said himself that Hoenikker was based on Irving Langmuir. See interview here —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:04, 16 August 2009 (UTC)


There is no "end spoilers" banner. That needs to be here.

external link[edit]

It should be noted that the website with the "free" ebook of cat's cradle requires some proof of identity and is sold to sponsors presumably so they can spam you. (see the privacy agreement on —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:51, 3 April 2007 (UTC).

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:50, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

See the cat? See the cradle?[edit]

Newt points out that a Cat's Cradle is just a formation of string that doesn't resemble a cat or a cradle. When he reveals that all of his sister's talk about her happy marriage was not true, he says "see the cat? See the cradle?" At first I took it to mean that he was stating that what his sister said about her marriage meant nothing, just as what anybody might say about a formation of string resembling a cat or a cradle means nothing. I consulted this article hoping to find out whether I'd interpreted it correctly or whether it meant something else that had gone right over my head, but there's no mention of Newt's analogy in the article.

So what did he mean?--Fingerknöchelkopf (talk) 11:43, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, you could see the cat's cradle as a playful lie. The book's narrative is supported by a scaffolding of lies. So, the cat's cradle is the arch symbol of the book, representing how we treat bare-faced lies with self-deception, much like the followers of Bokonon. She's obviously deluding herself aboiut the nature of her marriage, as is revealed in the climax, so it is fair to say that Newt is pointing this out early to the narrator and the reader.Artemisstrong (talk) 18:28, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

There are interesting constructions (like a cat's cradle) but no center (like a cat's cradle), nothing that is solid--similar to the world of the novel--and by reference a world where people like Felix H (and Edward Teller and Henry Kissinger and madnesses like Star Wars) are celebrated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:CatsCradle(1963).jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 20:15, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


I've proposed merging Bokononism to this article. See Talk:Bokononism. --Jenny 05:26, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Film Updates[edit]

The IMDB page for this film has recently been updated to reflect a 2011 release date... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:00, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Unique Format (Indexing?)[edit]

There's nothing in the article detailing the book's unusual chapter format, wherein we have a 286 page novel with 127 chapters. This seems noteworthy to mention. Also, I personally read it as the book referencing its own tale, in that the narrator stumbles upon a near perfect autobiography of Mona in the index of Castle's history book. All the short chapters, then, could be read as footnotes to some larger, grander story, but that all the hyperbole and bluster had been filtered out, leaving us with this indexed version. Artemisstrong (talk) 18:33, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Everything I've read by him has been like that. Wyatt Riot (talk) 20:42, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Really? I've read a lot of Vonnegut, and this is the only book of his that comes to mind that has such brief chapters, many only two pages in length. Certainly his voice is sharp and utilizes brevity throughout his works, but I'm speaking specifically of chapter length here. Artemisstrong (talk) 02:58, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I just checked my few Vonnegut books and you're probably right. His chapters are usually fairly short (6-9 pages per chapter, it seems) but this seems to be excessively so. But to draw any conclusions from it, I'd say that WP:OR and hence verboten. Unless we can find some references, that is. Wyatt Riot (talk) 09:07, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Reading this novel is like watching commercial television, albeit unusually high-quality commercial television. When you reach the end of a "chapter," it's time for a commercial. Some have complained that the adaptation of this novel to a movie will be excessively difficult, but I contend that adapting this novel to a television mini-series would be a piece of cake. Paul (talk) 07:22, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

We live in a fragmented world--therefore a fragmented story. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:54, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Verifying that "the sun's not yellow - it's chicken" is from Cat's Cradle?[edit]

The final item in References in pop culture reads:

Bob Dylan includes the line from the book, "the sun's not yellow - it's chicken" in the lyrics to his song Tombstone Blues.

I've just finished rereading the novel, and I don't recall seeing the line. Google books doesn't return a match for the quote (and several permutations), though that isn't authoritative. I can find plenty of attributions of "the sun's not yellow - it's chicken" to Vonnegut, but no specific citations, beyond Cat's Cradle.

Also, Wikiquote has no mention of this line in its list of memorable quotes from Cat's Cradle:

Can anyone recommend a way to verify the reference?

Update: I've found the text of Cat's Cradle online ( ), and "the sun's not yellow - it's chicken" isn't in there.

Burkmurray (talk) 05:39, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Unknown bands using text from Cat's Cradle in songs -- who cares?[edit]

Just a heads-up: I'm going to delete the "pop culture" section's entry on a band called The Mad Conductor, unless someone can suggest in this space a reason why it belongs on an encyclopedia entry about Vonnegut's book. It is unsourced, seems like original research, and who cares about this band? At least the line above it in the list is about Ambrosia, a band that has a reliably-sourced wikipage of its own. --Sjb0926 (talk) 14:59, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Okay, no objections, so I'm deleting the following text from the pop culture section: Sjb0926 (talk) 13:09, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
  • The band The Mad Conductor quotes Bonkonon's calypso "Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly, Man got to sit and wonder 'Why? why? why?' Tiger got to sleep, Bird got to land, Man got to tell himself he understand" in the song Member's Only. Also, cover art for Mad Conductor resembles Vonnegut book covers.

This objection may be coming too late, but the band does indeed use the lines "Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly, Man got to sit and wonder 'Why? why? why?' Tiger got to sleep, Bird got to land, Man got to tell himself he understand" in the song Members Only. As for the comment, "Who cares?", I might offer that both Vonnegut and Mad Conductor fans would care. True, Mad Conductor does not have a Wikipedia page, but the band does exist. A TuneCore widget at will point you toward the song in question. (talk) 02:30, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Is this Absurdist Fiction?[edit]

The absurdist fiction article refers to CC as an example of absurdist fiction. Here, it does not appear to be categorized as such. Thoughts? --Ds13 (talk) 22:11, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Could be. It has a lot of absurd elements, lots of it reads as a farce, and Vonnegut is a fairly absurd writer (perverse is another good word!). But was it written specifically to be absurdist? It's just Vonnegut's style. (talk) 11:41, 30 July 2012 (UTC)


Episode 16, Season 3, of the show Leverage ("The San Lorenzo Job") takes place in a San Lorenzo. Not sure if this is a reference to Vonnegut's book or a coincidence. There are differences -- in Cat's Cradle it's a dictatorship while in Leverage it's a democracy -- but that doesn't mean the writers weren't consciously borrowing the name from Vonnegut. --Roland (talk) 15:24, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

It could be a reference, but if so, it's a trivial one and not worth mentioning in this article. D O N D E groovily Talk to me 15:33, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Move the San Lorenzo info/Bokononism Glossary[edit]

Both of these should be moved to the page for Bokononism, the latter for obvious reasons. Likewise, a detailed history of San Lorenzo is superfluous for the article. But, as the history of San Lorenzo and the history of Bokononism are heavily entwined, it would be useful on the Bokononism page.

On a separate note, I think the Characters section should be deleted. Info there that isn't already in the plot summary can be added to the summary. If it's not important enough to be in the summary, it's not important enough to be included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mtkahn (talkcontribs) 22:00, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Papa Monzano[edit]

Was he really Frank Hoenniker's "right hand man", as this article says? He was his majordomo, which means he was in charge of Frank's house. That seems to be about the limit of his capabilities, though since nobody else wanted to be in charge of San Lorenzo, and I suppose he had the best qualifications out of the remaining San Lorenzans, he got it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:37, 11 September 2017 (UTC)