Essay Anti-War Elements in Joseph Heller’s "Catch-22"

Essay Anti-War Elements in Joseph Heller’s "Catch-22"

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Critics often refer to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 as an anti-war novel. At its core, the novel has a disparaging view of war. The main character, John Yossarian, believes that war is madness. He is astounded that men lay down their lives for vague concepts such as country, patriotism, and honor. However, unlike the typical anti-war novel, Catch-22 doesn’t focus on the most dismal aspects of war; Heller masterfully crafts an effective satirical style of addressing war. Corruption, confusion, and dishonesty run amok in the novel and these principles justify the embodiment of Catch-22 as an anti-war novel.
In essence, war in Catch-22 is portrayed as inherently corrupt. The motives of all involved in war are impure, from the highest ranked officers, to the most rudimentary soldier. One of the most prominent figures in the book, Colonel Cathcart, is an extremely corrupt, “industrious, intense, dedicated military tactician who calculated day and night in the service of himself” (Heller 188). Colonel Cathcart’s ultimate goal is one of glory and recognition by any means. He is “daring in the administrative stratagems he employ[s] to bring himself to the attention of his superiors” (187). One of the focal points of the book, and one of the ways Colonel Cathcart attempts to be recognized, is how he continues increasing the number of missions that the men under his authority are to fly before they can be sent home. Additionally, he enlists the chaplain to start prayer meetings prior to each mission and creates a form letter to send to the families of fallen soldiers of his of his ranks to further his purpose of recognition. Colonel Cathcart and the other administration even go as far as to twist events that happen unfavorably in t...


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...liph of Baghdad, the Imam of Damascus, and the Shiek of Araby” among many other honors (237). Milo has connections through his syndicate all over the globe and is respected enough from these deceptions to get away with using one of the German planes that he received from allowing the Germans to partake in the syndicate to bomb his own squadron in the American army.
The elements of dishonesty, disorientation, and deceit are abundantly present in a profusion of different manners in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. The corruption, confusion, and dishonesty provide the justification of the classification of Catch-22 as not only an anti-war novel. The way in which this book is written proves that it is an excellent example of an extremely cleverly crafted novel that shows an opposition to war in a multiplicity of different ways, including humor, anecdote, and exaggeration.

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