Discovering “God Almighty”: An Exploration of Kurt Vonnegut’s Mythmaking in Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five
College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in English (MA)
Kurt Vonnegut, Character, Story, Mythology, God Almighty
English Language and Literature
Kehoe, Megan Joy, "Discovering “God Almighty”: An Exploration of Kurt Vonnegut’s Mythmaking in Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five" (2022). Masters Theses. 887.
In an interview with Charlie Reilly interview, Kurt Vonnegut argues, “The Christ story is marvelous, but it’s not really about people like us” (“Two Conversations” 20). Vonnegut makes clear his appreciation for Christ, though he critiques the gospel’s relevance to humankind. In his own novels, Vonnegut takes from popular religion and creates his own stories, mythologies that are carefully catered to the human experience. In this evaluation of three of Vonnegut’s, I offer a new reading of the author which highlights his use of mythology, his parodies of God Almighty, and his hope for the direction of mankind. I begin by introducing Vonnegut’s approach to religion and mythology, as well as his use of God Almighty as a recurring character. I then offer a three-step process by which Vonnegut seems to arrive at his new mythologies. In my first chapter, I use the fictional Church of God the Utterly Indifferent in Sirens of Titan to show Vonnegut’s desire for free will and equality. Next, I analyze Bokononism in Cat’s Cradle to frame Vonnegut’s love of storytelling and personal mythologies. Finally, I compare God Almighty and Tralfamadorianism in Slaughterhouse-Five to highlight Vonnegut’s preference for individual narratives and escapism. I conclude by arguing for a new approach to Vonnegut, one which challenges both blind faith and cynicism while showing the value and beauty of story.