Study Guide

Cat's Cradle Chapter 123

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 123

Of Mice and Men

  • Six months pass. No plants or animals survived ice-nine, but the frosty polymorph did preserve all the animals it killed, so they could be thawed and eaten whenever, so that's handy.
  • The survivors all have their own roles. Mr. Crosby is the cook. Frank does sciency things. Newt paints while John writes. And Hazel is the designated cheerer-upper. "'No mosquitoes,'" she points out (123.4).
  • She's also taken upon herself to knit an American flag despite not having the proper colored cloth or right star design.
  • Frank made an automated SOS machine. It transmits night and day. No one answers.
  • Hazel wonders how John's writing is coming. John says it's coming along, but he won't show it until its ready.
  • Hazel and John talk of regrets.
  • They both agree with the poet who said "'Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been"'" (123.30).
  • That poet, by the by, was Kurt Vonnegut. He was probably riffing on "Maud Muller" by John Greenleaf Whittier.