Study Guide

Cat's Cradle Chapter 49

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 49

A Fish Pitched Up By an Angry Sea

  • World War I interrupted Bokonon's education. While in the infantry, he was wounded and hospitalized for two years.
  • Afterward, he sailed home only to be captured by a German submarine and made prisoner.
  • That German submarine was in turn captured by a British destroyer. Bokonon was taken aboard, but that ship didn't make it to its destination either.
  • Its steering went out, and it ended up on the Cape Verde Islands.
  • He eventually got a job on a fishing trip and made his way to Rhode Island, even though he meant to go to Massachusetts. He got a job as a gardener at a rich man's estate, presumably because he didn't want to chance going to Massachusetts.
  • After a spell, the owner of the estate—Remington Rumfoord IV—Invites Bokonon on a worldwide sailing extravaganza. Their ship sinks in the fog.
  • Man, this guy should really lay off the traveling.
  • As if by habit, Bokonon survives.
  • He stays in India for two years before building a schooner and sailing to the Caribbean where he meets Earl McCabe, a Marine deserter.
  • The two set sail for Miami. Do they make it?
  • What do you think?
  • Naturally the ship is blown off course, and they end up on San Lorenzo.
  • He came by the name Bokonon while on the island simply because that's how the islanders pronounced "Johnson."
  • Good enough for us.
  • Castle's book then goes into an aside to discuss the San Lorenzan dialect by translating "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" into San Lorenzan.
  • It is, shall we say, illegible.
  • Bokonon's schooner does wash ashore and is painted gold. Legend—well, Bokonon's legend at any rate—says the schooner will sail again at the world's end.