, Research Paper
Choose three or four characters from Cat s Cradle and Good Country People and discuss them in terms of existentialism and nihilism?
In both Cat s Cradle by Kurt Vonegut and Good Country People by Flannery O Connor the authors show how a character is corrupted and changed from an existentialist to a nihilist. The existentialist ends up losing their faith in life, and is left believing in nothing. They then turn to being nihilist after having the only thing they believed destroyed. In both stories the author uses both existentialist which is corrupted by nihilist. Existentialism is a philosophy centered on individual existence and personal responsibility for acts of free will in the absence of certain knowledge of what is right or wrong. Nihilism is a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless. In Good Country People the existentialismt is Hulga and the nihilist is Manly Porter. In Cat s Cradle the existentialismt is Julian Castle and the nihilist is Newt Hoeniker.
In Good Country People, Manly Porter, the nihilist, robs Hulga, the existentialismt. Manly, who appears to be an honest hardworking man, who sells bibles, want to have dinner with Hulga. Hulga agrees to meet Manly because she wants to use him for a test subject in an experiment of seduction, hoping to gain a new experience and also change, what she thinks, his limited way of thinking. She wants to orchestrate this specific plan because she thinks it will be the most successful one at seducing him, which is her primary goal. Hulga tells Manly take his remorse in hand and change it into a deeper understanding of life, meaning that when people take off their superficial blindfolds that cover up the harsh cruelty of reality and they see life for what it truly is, they don t see anything meaningful or hopeful in life. They then believe that life has no purpose or meaning and they are terribly disappointed. This is a prime example of existentialism. After some time Manly and Hulga begin kissing. Next, Manly tries to persuade Hulga to tell him that she loves him. Then, he busts open his case, finds alcohol, porno playing cards, etc. and then takes her leg from her. He leaves her on the loft alone with no way to get down and flees. In his hollowed-out bible, he keeps a flask of whiskey, a deck of pornographic playing cards, and a small blue box of condoms. He has been believing in evil since he was born because evil is the absence of good nothing. Hulga means, by nothing, her existential philosophy, that life has no meaning or purpose. Manly again means evil. When Manly is referring to nothing, that is nihilism.
In Cat s Cradle the existentialismt is Julian Castle and the nihilist is Newt Hoeniker. Newt is the midget and son to the maker of the atomic bomb. He says, “No dam cat, and no dam cradle,”shows that Newt doesn t look deeply with his imagination for the cat and cradle. This signifies his failure to search for meaning in his own life. He obviously has no hope for the future or for his life. Also Newt feels that the only reason for sex is for reproduction. He believes that life is something to be dealt with and that there is no hope. This signifies that his standpoint in life really has no meaning. His artwork is nothing but black painting with scratch marks. Newt s whole life is shown as one failure after another. There is nothing for him to believe in which makes him like Manly Portrt from Good Country People; they are both nihilists. Julian Castle s life is empty but he still has the hope of filling nothing with something. He paints a large mosaic of Mona. He is filling the nothingness with beauty. Comparing Julian Castle s life with Newt s life when he is in love with Zelda. Both men really don t have anything but have faith. These two characters exist independently of each other and represent an Existentialist being one step away from a Nihilist.
In Cat s Cradle Newt Hoeniker coexists with Julian Castle. This shows both the existentialist and nihilist independent from each other. In Good Country People Hulga interacts with Manly Porter. This interaction shows the clash between Existentialism and Nihilism, and may foreshadow an existentialist changing into a nihilist.