Study Guide

Cat's Cradle Chapter 47

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 47

Dynamic Tension

  • John cozies up to his new book and vaguely overhears whisper of a midget being on board the plane.
  • But John has no time for midgets. He's reading Bokonon's theory of dynamic tensions, "the equilibrium between good and evil" (47.3).
  • Seems the term was once used by bodybuilder Charles Atlas and now by a prophet of a small Caribbean island.
  • Hmm, we're sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.
  • Yep, here it is. Just as Atlas believes muscles can only bulk up by "pitting one set of [them] against another" so does Bokonon believe good and evil need to be pitted against each other to build a society.
  • Bokonon even wrote a Calypso about it.

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