Essay on Language and Dialogue in Catch-22

Powerful Essays
Use of Language and Dialogue Catch-22

“Catch-22 is probably best discussed in terms of its language. The prose style Heller employs is original and distinctive, appropriate and well implemented (Pearson 277).” One application of that prose style is dialogue; Heller uses dialogue to manifest the themes of the novel. Some of the themes best shown in the dialogue of the characters are Heller's hatred of war, and his perceived idiocy in military and in bureaucracy. Scattered throughout the book are several dialogues which share numerous characteristics. Some particular conversations are especially demonstrative of these elements. Heller uses these dialogues to communicate his ideas to the reader. In chapter XXXVI, several military police officers pick up the camp's Chaplain, take him to The Cellar, and interrogate him. The dialogue between the three MPs and the Chaplain is typical of dialogues throughout the book in many ways and the conversation reflects numerous themes central toCatch-22. The interrogation scene offers many insights into the meaning of Catch-22and the dialogue therein is especially important. The camp Heller describes is bureaucratic in the worst possible way and the conversation exhibits those characteristics of bureaucracy that Heller most loathes: illogical operation, inability to take action, lateral actions (in which no real gain is made), and a maelstrom of regulations which work against each other.

One way the interrogation scene mirrors the themes of the book is that the logicemployed by the military police officers is totally illogical. Heller presents thisas a major theme in his novel: throughout the book, the thought processes of agents of themilitary make no sense whatsoever and tho...

... middle of paper ... Heller": Copyright 1996 by Charles Scribner's and Sons New York, NY.

Frank, Mike. "Enos and Thanatos in Catch-22." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Roger Matuz. Vol.11. (77-87) Detroit: Gale, 1990.

Hasley, Louis. "Dramatic Tension in Catch-22." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 8 (173) , Ed. Roger Matuz. Detroit: Gale. 1990.

Heller, Joseph. The Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism. Twentieth-Century American Literature Vol. 3. New York. Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Dell Publishing, 1955, 1961

Kennard, Jean E. "Joseph Heller: At War with Absurdity." Contemporary Literary Criticism.(75-87) Ed. Roger Matuz. Detroit:L Gale 1990.

Pearson, Carol. "Catch-22 & the Debasement of Language."Contemporary Literary Criticism. (277) Matuz . Detroit: L Gale 1990.
Get Access