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Cat's Cradle: Novel Summary: Chapter 61 - Chapter 70

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Chapter 61 - Chapter 70

Summary of Chapter 61: What a Corporal Was Worth

At the airport they learn that the local currency, the Corporal, is worth 50 American cents. A poster of Bokonon shows a skinny old colored man smoking a cigar who looks kind and amused. A reward is offered for his capture. A sign declares that Bokononism is illegal and will be punished by the hook. Another sign forbids Bokonon foot play, the practice of Bokononists mingling their souls by pressing the bottom of their feet together.

Commentary on Chapter 61: What a Corporal Was Worth

The currency exchange rate is fixed to fleece tourists. The signs at the airport give some clues about the culture. Bokononism is an outlawed religion. On the poster are Bokonon’s (Johnson’s) cosmic answers to questions on his official entry form into the country: avocation: “being alive”; occupation: “being dead” (p. 135). Jonah wonders how Bokonon became an outlaw since he was McCabe’s best friend.

Summary of Chapter 62: Why Hazel Wasn’t Scared

Five thousand San Lorenzans stare at the seven passengers who get off the plane. The people are thin and half naked. None of the dogs bark. Hazel says she is glad it is a Christian country or she would be scared.

Commentary on Chapter 62: Why Hazel Wasn’t Scared

The people are so oppressed and hungry that they make no reaction. The contrast to the few overfed passengers is tragic, but Vonnegut makes the scene into black humor to point out the absurdity of such an unfair world where the few can oppress the many. A band is there to honor the guests but does not play. Instead, there is a xylophone made of garnets and rhinestones with the sign, Mona. The sex goddess, Mona, is going to play for them.

Summary of Chapter 63: Reverent and Free

Jonah describes six fighter planes, a gift from the United States near the reviewing stand. They are painted with bloodthirsty illustrations. Papa’s black limousine arrives with his daughter, Mona, and Frank Hoenikker. The crowd sings the national anthem, the words written by Bokonon and sung to “Home on the Range.”

Commentary on Chapter 63: Reverent and Free

The words of the anthem are all lies claiming the people are fearless, pure, and rich, “reverent and free” (p. 138).

Summary of Chapter 64: Peace and Plenty

Papa wears a shoulder holster. He is very old, fat, and in bad shape. His bodyguard is Major General Frank Hoenikker, who looks like a child. Jonah is insanely in love with Mona and can’t take his eyes off her. She is eighteen and serene, like a Madonna. Mona plays “When Day is Done” on the xylophone.

Commentary on Chapter 64: Peace and Plenty

Bokonon says, “Mona has the simplicity of the all” (p. 140). She wears a Greek white dress and sandals and has brown skin and long blonde hair. She is the only beautiful girl in the country, promising “peace and plenty forever” (p. 140). Papa adopted her “to mingle divinity with the harshness of his rule” (p. 140).

Summary of Chapter 65: A Good Time to Come to San Lorenzo

Papa Monzano had been the major-domo to McCabe and then succeeded him as President. He welcomes the ambassador, mistaking Crosby for Minton, calling San Lorenzo the best friend America ever had. He assures them San Lorenzans are Christian Anti-Communists. The next day will be the celebration of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy, the soldiers who died in World War Two. Minton will present a wreath from America. In physical pain, Monzano collapses suddenly on the reviewing stand.

Commentary on Chapter 65: A Good Time to Come to San Lorenzo

Monzano looks sick. It is later disclosed that he is dying of cancer. The welcoming ceremony is a farce as Monzano tries to tell the ambassador what he thinks Americans want to hear, and Minton does the same, lying back to Monzano. 

Summary of Chapter 66: The Strongest Thing There Is

Frank is frantic, not wanting Papa to die. The ambulance is sent for. Mona remains serene but has moved to the back where she rubs the boot of a handsome pilot with her bare foot while someone holds a microphone to Papa’s lips. His death rattle is heard over the P. A. system. Papa names Frank as the next president of the country and then passes out.

Commentary on Chapter 66: The Strongest Thing There Is

Papa names Frank the next president because he has science, “the strongest thing there is” (p. 146). Papa also mumbles “ice” perhaps referring to ice-nine. Science in politics of course means weapons and domination. Papa wants this kind of strength for his country. It is strange, however, that Papa’s daughter, engaged to the next president, is playing footsie with someone else. She could die for such an outlawed Bokononist act.

Summary of Chapter 67: Hy-u-o-ook-kuh!

The welcome breaks up with Papa in the ambulance and everyone shuffled to hotel or embassy. Newt and Angela go to Frank’s house while Jonah and the Crosbys go to Hotel Casa Mona. Crosby asks the taxi driver who Bokonon is. The driver says he is a very bad man. The driver says no one follows him and no one hides him because they don’t want the hook.

Commentary on Chapter 67: Hy-u-o-ook-kuh!

It is significant that the cab driver lies about Bokonon because everyone in San Lorenzo is secretly a Bokononist.

Summary of Chapter 68: Hoon Year Mora-Toorz

Jonah asks the cab driver who the Hundred Martyrs are. He says San Lorenzo declared war on Germany and Japan an hour after Pearl Harbor was bombed and then conscripted one hundred men, put them on a ship for America. The ship was sunk by a German submarine outside the Bolivar harbor.

Commentary on Chapter 68: Hoon Year Mora-Toorz

The Hundred Martyrs are more victims than heroes, rounded up and forced into being a sacrifice for a democracy they do not experience, illustrated by their arbitrary conscription.

Summary of Chapter 69: A Big Mosaic

Jonah and the Crosbys are the first guests in Philip Castle’s new hotel. A handsome young man in white duck trousers is making a twenty-foot high mosaic of Mona Aamons Monzano in the hotel lobby. Jonah has a witty conversation with the man who turns out to be Philip Castle himself, the author of the book Jonah read.

Commentary of Chapter 69: A Big Mosaic

Castle makes the sort of ironic remarks that Jonah enjoys. Philip is handsome and intelligent, certainly more Mona’s type than the childish Frank. One wonders what the sex goddess herself is up to with all these lovers.

Summary of Chapter 70: Tutored by Bokonon

Jonah continues his banter with Philip, explaining he is here to interview his father. Philip explains Bokonon was his tutor and Mona’s.

Commentary on Chapter 70: Tutored by Bokonon

When Philip learns Jonah is a writer, he compares writing to drugs and mentions that his father needs a book for dying patients to read in their pain. Jonah jokes he could overhaul the 23rd Psalm. This is a joke but on the other hand, Vonnegut’s satire is meant to be a sort of pain-killer that makes us laugh at the absurdity of life.


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