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Death and the Absurd

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Catch-22 does not hide its satirical edge. Joseph Heller chooses to let the reader in on the joke early with absurd names, repetitive dialogue, and a loose sense of authority among American military ranks. In the center of Heller's historical anarchism is Yossarian, the antihero bombadier whose only real mission is to live and return home regardless of morality or emotional attachment to the men who are responsible for the success of his assignment. Yossairan can escape the war, but Heller makes a profound statement on the inescapability of death through a satirical looking-glass.Yossarian longs for freedom, yet will never be free from mortality. It takes a doctor, a man whose profession is protecting life, to remind him, "We're all dying. Where the devil else do you think you're heading?" (187)

Names are meaningless in war, the absurdity distances the reader from the character and it's humanity, allowing death easier access into the narrative until the novel's final segment. Major Major, Milo Minderbiner, and, simply, Mudd, to name a few, are all ridiculous and are names that no reader would be able to relate with a name he or she has encountered in the real world. Heller's

characters are not there to inspire much sympathy from the reader. They are figures who are all entering death in some form or another.

When a character dies in the beginning of the story, it is not a clear-cut narrative. It is more mysterious and the situation is not clear or determined enough to be something tangible for the reader to grab onto in order to lay out a cohesive narrative. War distances humanity from the soldiers, and Heller uses his satire to make his claim that War is the most inhuman act that is repeatedly seen occurring throughout his...

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...ath and those who promote it. The arbitraryness of authority is then passed down to the indistinguishable names of the soldiers, down to the unordered chain of events that leads many characters to their deaths at the expense of superficial desires for men who want nothing but power. Underneath all of the horror it is Heller's strong sense of satire that keeps the reader in a comfortable hospital ward away from all the real horror, until the end when the facade wears off and the horrendous acts that World War II was capable of producing in humanity is put

on a pedestal for each reader to witness and decide for himself what conclusions should be drawn in order to call these men of death "human". War is messy, and Joesph Heller's Catch-22 turns it into caricature by being a bit messier.

Works Cited

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
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