Catch-22

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A catch-22 is a paradox used by the United States Army to forcefully keep men flying missions regardless of their mental capacity. Doc Daneeka explains it perfectly to Yossarian when he informs, “Sure there’s a catch. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy” (Heller 46). This overwhelming obscurity is the basis of the book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. He juxtaposes the main character’s morals by positioning the will to live and the will to do right adjacently. This creates constant conflict for Yossarian, who ultimately “will do anything to live” (Contemporary Literary Criticism). By examining the actions of every character, corruption is a present and radiating theme that degrades their morals and infiltrates their minds.

There is a character by the name Major Major Major Major. He is a Major. His life revolves around and defines the structure of a catch-22. As the reader comes to find out, all “catch-22’s are corrupt” (Allbery). They manipulate situations for the benefit of someone else, usually the minority in control. Major Major’s situation is described by his secretary when he says, “Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office” (Heller 106). The Major set orders to keep people from seeing him while he is actually available; thus men are only allowed to see him when he is away, in which case they cannot see him. The catch-22 surrounding Major Major is a clear sign of corruption within the high ranks of the army, for despite Major Major’s minor roll overall, his lack of responsibility is comparable to Yossarian’s.

Yossarian’s decisions are exponentially greater and more outlasting than those of any other character. Every si...

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...n become corrupt. If he kept to his word, Yossarian would not fake illnesses, Wintergreen would not have abandoned and became AWOL and Peckam would not have any men to kill. Cathart is the antagonist, caring so much about impressing his bosses that the rest of his men can die. Cathart is, “the evil genius behind much of the plot” (Potts).

Catch-22 is a novel about the corruption of war and human nature. It again and again portrays every character as corrupt in his own way. Although the basis of corruption is different for each character, they all share the overpowering theme of it. Each character strives for self gain in some way, and most are willing to kill to attain it. In war, the enemy is not always the person shooting at you, it may be the person piloting your plane, or the person ordering you to shoot, but either corruption is present and men will die.

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