Catch 22 by Joseph Heller Essay

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller Essay

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Taking place during World War II, the novel “Catch-22” introduces Captain John Yossarian, who is in the United States Air Force, while in a hospital acquiring from an illness of his liver. He is constantly concerned that people are trying to kill him, proving in postponing his number of missions and going to extremities at times such as poisoning his own squadron and moving the bomb line during the Great Big Siege of Bologna. Yossarian’s character endeavors at all costs to stay in the hospital by reason of "There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital, and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily." (175). While he desperately refused to complete his never ending missions in the dilemma of Catch-22, author Joseph Heller classifies Yossarian as a hero because of his loyalty, his ability to remain sane throughout the war, and his heroic characteristics.
Although sometimes what he gives to his fellow soldiers might not be returned, Yossarian looks out for his friends and cares about his tent mates. His ability to mourn the people he cares about is impressive and heroic because throughout the mourning process of soldiers in his squadron such as McWatt and Hungry Joe, Yossarian is able to remain sane while everybody around him is not. While even though he sometimes claims that he is insane, Yossarian’s actions demonstrate his heroic character. These actions are best exemplified when Yossarian tries feverishly to save Snowden's life while being by Snowden’s side in the final seconds of his life. With Snowden’s death, Yossarian comprehends the fact that without spirit, there was no person and after all, "Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret" (450) Yossarian, despite witnessing the...


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...and up to the Catch-22 scheme, he ends the novel with Yossarian standing up to the military and refusing to fly more missions. His growth over the course of the novel is important, however, the final chapters show him as a hero. After everything he has been through, including many deaths and the sight of Snowden in the plane, his ability to remain sane throughout the war proves heroic and his growth as a person has made him a valuable hero. The ripeness in “Ripeness was all” (450) concludes Yossarian’s boldness to stay alive because, after all, man can, for a short time, remain alive with himself. His loyalty to his fellow soldiers categorizes him as not only loyal but a soldier who cherishes the relationships he shares with his tent mates. His importance as a hero is defined by his act to face the military and help his fellow soldiers instead of being narcissistic.

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