Cat's Cradle: Novel Summary: Chapter 86 - Chapter 100

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Chapter 86 - Chapter 100

Summary of Chapter 86: Two Little Jugs

The power comes back on in the middle of the night with loud bangs as all the machines come on. Newt, Angela, and Jonah rush out of their bedrooms as though they have heard gunfire. Each is carrying their most precious items. Jonah grabs his passport and billfold and Newt and Angela are carrying identical thermos jugs, which Jonah knows contain ice-nine. Frank and Mona arrive, and Frank wants to talk to Jonah.

Commentary on Chapter 86: Two Little Jugs

The jugs of ice-nine seem to give Angela and Newt a sense of power and self-confidence, though Jonah realizes the children are all walking time-bombs. All Felix’s three unstable children and their shares of ice-nine are in San Lorenzo now, setting the stage for some catastrophe.

Summary of Chapter 87: The Cut of My Jib

Frank and Jonah talk in the den, a cave under the waterfall, which belonged to Mona’s father, the Finn, Nestor Aamons. Frank tells Jonah they need to work together. He offers Jonah the job of President of the Republic of San Lorenzo. He won’t have to do much work and he would get a hundred thousand dollars a year.

Commentary on Chapter 87: The Cut of My Jib

Frank is hardly able to communicate with other humans and is terrified of being president. He wants to remain the technical advisor and have someone else run the show.

Summary of Chapter 88: Why Frank Couldn’t Be President

Jonah expresses the fear that the president would be assassinated in a take-over. Frank assures him nobody wants to be president of this place. Frank has the social limitations of his father, but he thinks he has good ideas. He wants someone to help him who can face the public.

Commentary on Chapter 88: Why Frank Couldn’t Be President

Frank’s plan is that he would be another version of his father and come up with “creative” ideas, while someone else does all the work.

Summary of Chapter 89: Duffle

Jonah realizes he is in the hands of what Bokonon calls a stupa, a fogbound child. Frank says that kids in high school used to make fun of him and think he didn’t know about girls, but every day that he went to Jack’s Hobby Shop he was screwing Jack’s wife.

Commentary on Chapter 89: Duffle

Frank’s appearance as a backward kid hides a dangerous and unscrupulous ego. In one respect he is more aware than his father-- about girls.

Summary of Chapter 90: Only One Catch

Jonah is on the verge of having a cosmic vin-dit, imagining God is shaping his destiny. He asks Frank what the catch is to being president. Frank admits there is a catch: he would have to marry Mona, since it is predicted in the Books of Bokonon, she will marry the next president of San Lorenzo.

Commentary on Chapter 90: Only One Catch

It is obvious Jonah will accept the divine Mona and the presidency. At last he knows where God has been leading him.

Summary of Chapter 91: Mona

Frank brings Mona to the den and leaves Jonah with her. Jonah is shy because of her appearance like a Greek goddess in a diaphanous gown. He cannot talk, but she reassures him, “It is not possible to make a mistake” (p. 203). She suggests they do boko-maru. She takes off her sandals, and he goes wild, scrambling to unknot his shoe strings and get his socks off. He experiences his first boko-maru.

Commentary on Chapter 91: Mona

Jonah assures us he is a man of the world who has had more than fifty-three women, but nothing was as erotic as boko-maru with Mona.

Summary of Chapter 92: On the Poet’s Celebration of His First Boko-Maru

Jonah writes a poem celebrating boko-maru.

Commentary on Chapter 92: On the Poet’s Celebration of His First Boko-Maru

The poem parodies love poems in general and includes a play on the words, sole and soul: “Long have I/ Advised thee ill/ As to where two souls/ Might tryst” (p. 206).

Summary of Chapter 93: How I Almost Lost My Mona

Mona says that Frank did not love her. He still loves Jack’s wife at Jack’s Hobby Shop. She admits that she does boko-maru with everyone because she loves everyone. Jonah says he doesn’t want her to do it with anyone else but him now. She calls him a “sin-wat,” a man who wants all of somebody’s love, but Jonah is already drunk with his new sense of power and ownership. When Mona threatens to leave, he agrees to convert to Bokononism.

Commentary on Chapter 93: How I Almost Lost My Mona

Bokononism sanctions the equivalent of free love. Mona tells Jonah, “I make people happy. Love is good, not bad” (p. 207). With Mona and his new title as president, Jonah starts to act the part of a dictator, but he backs down rather than lose her. Vonnegut points out that sex is frequently a power game that leads to a feeling of ownership. This message of free love, rather than exclusive love, was embraced by the sixties generation who read the book.

Summary of Chapter 94: The Highest Mountain

Frank drives Jonah to the bedside of Papa, to get his blessing on the transfer of the bride and presidency. They see the sun rise over Mount McCabe that looks like a blue humpback whale. He thinks a stone on the top resembles an old harpoon. Frank says no one has been to the top of Mount McCabe.

Commentary on Chapter 94: The Highest Mountain

The reference to the mountain looking like a whale with a harpoon in it is again a reference to the whale, Moby-Dick, with Ahab’s harpoon sticking out of it. The image is a foreshadowing of doom.

Jonah asks Frank what is sacred to Bokononists. Frank says, not God, only man. The point is that a religion which is otherworldly does not care about the fate of the creatures on earth.

Summary of Chapter 95: I See the Hook

Papa Monzano’s castle is on a precipice over the sea and “black and cruel” (p. 212) with cannons and the torture hook in front. When Jonah sees the hook, he feels he really will rule the island and deliver it by chopping down the hook.

Commentary on Chapter 95: I See the Hook

Jonah’s Fata Morgana has arrived: the mirage that he will be a just ruler and fix everything. The cruel castle was made by Tum-bumwa, the slave turned emperor. He was mad and made the castle from the picture in a book. It symbolizes what happens to people who try to take power, even with good intentions.

Summary of Chapter 96: Bell, Book, and Chicken in a Hatbox

Frank and Jonah wait in the lobby, a stone room with rings on the wall that used to be a torture chamber. A manhole cover on the floor covers an oubliette (French for “to forget”), or underground castle dungeon, where prisoners were thrown to be “forgotten.” A Christian minister waits with them with a chicken in a hatbox and a knife, ready to minister to Papa Monzano if he needs it. His name is Dr. Vox Humana. Dr. Von Koenigswald tells Frank and Jonah to go in and mentions if they could kill Papa, he would be grateful.

Commentary on Chapter 96: Bell, Book, and Chicken in a Hatbox

Religion is again parodied with Dr. Vox Humana admitting to Jonah that he has had to make up his own version of Christianity since regular Christianity is outlawed with Bokononism. The chicken and knife suggest some sort of Voodoo ritual. Vox Humana means the human voice, the name of an organ stop. Like Bokonon, Humana is improvising on religion, implying it is no worse than what humanity already has.

Summary of Chapter 97: The Stinking Christian

Papa Monzano is in a bed made of a golden lifeboat, the one from Bokonon’s old ship. Papa is writhing in pain and sweating. Around his neck is a chain and a steel cylinder. At first Jonah thinks it is a charm. But it contains a splinter of ice-nine.

Papa cannot talk and keeps asking for “ice,” but does not want it when they bring it to him. He tells Frank it does not matter who is president. He looks at Jonah and says, “Good luck.” He tells Jonah to kill Bokonon and says Frank and Jonah should teach the people science. He asks for the last rites and when Dr. Vox Humana comes in, Papa tells him to get out. He wants the Bokononist last rites.

Commentary on Chapter 97: The Stinking Christian

Papa keeps up the pretense until the last moment that he is not a Bokononist. He gives a vision for the next presidency to be a scientific one because science is “magic that works” (p. 218). But he knows well that nothing will work, and that it does not matter who is president. The golden lifeboat and the chip of ice-nine around the desperate man’s neck lead the reader to think the end is near. The lifeboat was supposed to reappear at the end of the world. Papa is like the mad Captain Ahab who wants to take everyone down with him.

Summary of Chapter 98: Last Rites

Everyone is too scared to give the last rites to Papa for fear of the hook, so Dr. von Koenigswald says he will have a try. He takes off his shoes, exposes Papa’s feet and assumes the position for boko-maru.

Commentary on Chapter 98: Last Rites

Dr. von Koenigswald appears to have reformed from his Nazi days. He says he is not a Bokononist but agrees with Bokonon that all religions are lies.

Summary of Chapter 99: Dyot Meet Mat

Dr. von Koenigswald and Papa Monzano exchange the responses in the litany of the last rites, that begins with the phrase, “God made mud” (p. 220).

Commentary on Chapter 99: Dyot Meet Mat

The last rites are hilarious but a touching good-bye: “And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around . . . Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.” The litany confirms the impression that life on earth is a dirty business and humans are not very high on God’s list.

Summary of Chapter 100: Down the Oubliette Goes Frank

Papa doesn’t die right away. Jonah asks Frank how they should announce his presidency, but Frank says that is his business. He will only do technical things. All Frank plans to do for the day is get the power running and stage an air show for the celebration of the Hundred Martyrs. Jonah thinks he will make his own announcement at the celebration.

Commentary on Chapter 100: Down the Oubliette Goes Frank

Jonah is disgusted that Frank wants to repeat his father’s profession of “receiv[ing] honors and creature comforts while escaping human responsibilities” (p. 225). He calls this Frank’s throwing himself down into a “spiritual oubliette” (p. 225).


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