Study Guide

Cat's Cradle Chapter 5

By Kurt Vonnegut

Chapter 5

Letter from a Pre-Med

  • Newt's reply consists of this whole chapter and the next.
  • Seeing as Newt was only six when the bomb dropped, he isn't sure he's going to be much help, but he'll tell John the story anyway.
  • Newt was playing on the living room carpet. The door to his father's office was open, and he saw the doctor playing with a bit of string.
  • The string came off a manuscript called 2000 A.D.. The story was about how humanity would destroy itself using bombs in, yep, the year 2000.
  • Of course, they'd have an orgy before the apocalypse. Priorities and whatnot.
  • Anyway, an inmate who needed technical advice on the bomb sections had sent the manuscript to his father.
  • But Dr. Hoenikker never once read the story. He simply played with the string.
  • Newt watched his father make a cat's cradle with the string. It's the closest thing to a game that Newt has ever seen.
  • Yes, based on the title of this book, you can imagine this scene is pretty important.
  • Dr. Hoenikker comes out to show Newt the cat's cradle. But the sight of his father's ugly, porous face and bad breath causes Newt to run away in tears.
  • In a weird bit of meta-commentary, Newt's friend complains about the sound of the typewriter, so he can't continue with the letter now.