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Kurt Vonnegut's Interpretation Of Religion In Cat’s Cradle

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Kurt Vonnegut’s interpretations of religion throughout his book talks about his way of what the right practice of religion might be, as expressed in “Cat’s Cradle,” the primary source of religion is bokononism. The novel takes place in a fictitious island called San Lorenzo, the inhabitants there foresee the faith if bokononism as their only way of practicing religion. Vonnegut explores the lies and truths of real hope offered to man, and his whereabouts are to express bokononism the way he intends too across his book and how people from San Lorenzo follows his traditional views. A lot of the faith that is expressed permits Vonnegut to reveal many of his fictional beliefs; he highlights that faith is from the person's perspective so that other religions seem unreal and absurd.

From the beginning, Vonnegut implies the fact that Bokononism is not real faith; it is just a made-up fiction. The book opens up with a foma, which is harmless truths, “Live by the foma that causes you to be brave and type and healthy and happy” (Vonnegut). Foma is used to give the iconic appeal of something wrong but right, how faith is characterized as a comfort to man through this religion, of course, given the number of problems that came from religious beliefs. Bokononism was created by Kurt Vonnegut to explain most actions throughout the story, is expressed fictionally, and can be practiced by whoever. Vonnegut and his partner Edward McCabe did not raise the conditions of life on the island, bokonon developed by giving the islanders a leap of faith, their own faith. It taught McCabe to outlaw the religion as a way of easiness that built excitement in the novel. The leader of the island, Papa Monzana, often practiced bokononism in secret, which served his purpose of faith.

Vonnegut so portrays faith as an exercise that though it brings hope to the habitants of San Lorenzo, even though most of them are ugly truths. By the unrealistic truths of bokononism insight for the reader, it shows the lifestyle that implies that other religions may be wrong. In the book, it mentions “The thing I like, said Hazel, ‘is they all speak English and they are all Christians. That makes things easier” (Vonnegut). He is saying how ironic it is to live in San Lorenzo and be Christian for which San Lorenzo is not a Christian land. Hazel does not recognize it, so she feels as if she belongs. In centuries, these religions have lost sight of their importance and traditions as they had portrayed in truths. Kurt Vonnegut tells the novel implores the reader to look at other religious beliefs as foolish, as well as other people can believe that bokononism is a lie. This is not to estimate an atheist belief, but Vonnegut is speaking of the absurdity of religious beliefs even if people claim their beliefs. As how many people do not believe in bokononism, people who are bokononist relinquish other religions. He explains it like this since a lot the readers may have their views of what is right or what is wrong regarding religious traditions. He is showing a method that can guarantee people's faith and providing people hope.

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Cat’s Cradle is written when certain events are happening like wars between religions. The talker John has written during the last days how his practices with religion are portrayed along with the book. The invention is Kurt’s religion was to explain the role of faith, the utility of bokononism as a trait that permits people to have their belief. For example, John frequently mentions “karass” this is declared as a bunch of people gathered along to do gods “work.” Kurt Vonnegut conveys the ideas of power and fate, determining the thought of faith by people who carry faith without knowing what their purpose is. The division of certain people echoes the split of different religions into the land. Most of the other beliefs are scattered along with other communities portraying a new division. Vonnegut looks to discover the direct nature of religious divisions and examines how people’s faith can match other people from different regions regarding beliefs. That is where foma comes along, plays a part in the book.

Another example is that a bokononism ceremony is a style of leadership between two bokononist. Vonnegut gives these moments as a darkly comic and how it should be practiced. He speaks to the people who exercise beliefs and tells the reader how to complete faith is supported by lies. Of course, the idea of social awareness is iconic since it is the opposite of what people do. It shows how controversial the idea of religion is since no other religion is accepted other than bokononism. How are people going to be social and discuss their similarities if not everyone in the book has the same beliefs? As Kurt explains how a foma is created for people to criticize other people’s beliefs, but as how it is portrayed, it seems as if people gather around to distinguish what is right or wrong. That is the irony if social awareness since no one is talking about the same beliefs other than bokononism.

Bokononism functions as the way Kurt Vonnegut implies, as the relationship with faith and belief instead of a regular religion. Furthermore, the people from the island commit suicide on the implication of bokononism, for which removes the sense that the book’s thought as of how faith should be shown. However, bokononism ends by explaining how younger men would be blinded by improper human choices, instead of men choosing faith as their guide. The majority of the time, when Kurt explains how bokononism is, he talks about the importance of religion but not talking about how it impacts many people.

Work cited

  1. Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle. New York, NY: Delta Books, 1963.
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Kurt Vonnegut’s Interpretation Of Religion In Cat’s Cradle. (2021, September 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Kurt Vonnegut’s Interpretation Of Religion In Cat’s Cradle.” Edubirdie, 23 Sept. 2021,
Kurt Vonnegut’s Interpretation Of Religion In Cat’s Cradle. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
Kurt Vonnegut’s Interpretation Of Religion In Cat’s Cradle [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 23 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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