Study Guide

Cat's Cradle Chapter 40

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 40

House of Hope and Mercy

  • As it happened—scratch that. "As it was supposed to happen," so sayeth Bokonon, John gets assigned to do a story in San Lorenzo (40.1).
  • The story is to be about Julian Castle, the inheritor of a sugar empire who pulled a Dr. Albert Schweitzer and opened a free hospital in the jungle. San Lorenzo's jungle, to be precise.
  • But don't put Julian Castle to the top of your saint's list just yet.
  • Sure, he's been relatively unselfish for the last twenty years, saving lives and whatnot. But the man "had had a dazzling talent for spending millions without increasing mankind's stores of anything but chagrin" in his younger days (40.5).
  • Not only did he increase the world's chagrin, but he also increased its population by one. His son, Philip Castle, currently runs the island's one and only hotel, the Casa Mona.
  • While John doesn't feel any purpose pulling him toward San Lorenzo, he does feel love is helping him out.
  • Specifically, his desire to be loved by one Mona Aamons Monzano.

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