Catch-22

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Catch-22 is perhaps Joseph Heller’s best known work. Catch-22, published in 1961, is a satire which depicts America’s counter-cultural antiwar attitudes. One terrifying aspect of Catch-22 is life and death is controlled not by the men in the squadron, but by the frightening bureaucracy which continually defies logic in order to achieve their own personal gains. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is somewhat autobiographical; emphasizes the literary elements of characterization, conflict, and structure of a novel; and has received extensive and through criticism. Catch-22 follows Captain Yossarian in his exploits as a bombardier in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He is stationed with his squadron on the island of Pianosa, near the Italian coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout the book, Yossarian believes that everybody is trying to kill him. His commander, Colonel Cathcart, constantly raises the number of missions his men must fly in hopes of improving his rank in the army. Ultimately, Yossarian discovers that one can be discharged from the military if found insane. At this time, he tries to evade bomb missions by claiming he is insane. This “Catch-22” prevents anyone from being discharged who claims to be insane. This actually proves the soldier is sane because he recognizes that it would prevent him from going on bomb missions. Later, Yossarian is introduced to Milo Minderbinder, who runs a syndicate; he uses military planes to ship food all over Europe and amasses huge profits. The novel draws to a close when Yossarian’s friend, Nately, is killed in a bomb mission. Yossarian refuses to fly any more missions and eventually flees to neutral Sweden to wait out the war. Joseph Heller was author of the famous World War II nove... ... middle of paper ... ... ignore the fact that somebody has been killed and instead seize Yossarian for being AWOL. This is ironic because the reader expects the police to arrest Yossarian’s friend for murder. Heller also names a pilot “Kraft”, but he is inexperienced at flying. Using irony enhances the feeling of confusion and absurdity (Clemens 1). Catch-22 is a social satire in which Heller ridicules the military and big business. For example, one of the military’s top generals has an extreme obsession with parades and eventually schedules fake parades that will never happen just for the fun of it. Heller provides a dark aspect to his humor by relying on black humor. One example of black humor occurs when the army is unable to recognize that Mudd is dead and Doc Daneeka is alive. The soldiers put more faith in military records than the reality of an actual dead or living body. (Scotto 3)

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