"Cat's Cradle" is the name of a string game played by children. In the book, Vonnegut writes that Felix Hoenikker, the fictional inventor of the atomic bomb, was playing cat's cradle with his son, Newton on the day the bomb fell on Hiroshima. In a letter to the narrator, Newton remembers the incident as a very disturbing memory, in which his father's cigar smoke smelled like the "mouth of Hell," and his father "was the ugliest thing I've ever seen." Newton avers that his father almost never played games of any kind, but cites the incident as an ironic counterpoint to his father's assertion in his Nobel acceptance speech that he had been able to create the atomic bomb because he never lost his childlike sense of wonder, and that he
never stopped dawdling like an eight-year-old....Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn.