Essay on Social Commentary in Catch-22

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Social Commentary in Catch-22

Life is filled with situations that are very difficult to find an escape. Even once in a while, life presents a situation that is beyond difficult, and completely impossible to escape from. These situations were expanded upon and brought to obvious light in Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22. This novel was such a masterful work that the phrase, catch-22 came to be synonymous with the situations that Heller portrays in his novel. Set in the final months of World War II, Catch-22 tells the story of a bomber squadron on the mythical island of Pinosa, just off of Italy. The story is told through the eyes of Captain John Yossarian, one of the few sane men in the novel, who sees all of the impossible situations his squadron is placed in. "For Catch-22 is the unwritten loophole in every written law which empowers the authorities to revoke your rights whenever it suits their cruel whims; it is, in short, the principle of absolute evil in a malevolent, mechanical, and incompetent world. Because of Catch-22, justice is mocked, the innocent are victimized, and Yossarian's squadron is forced to fly more than double the number of missions prescribed by Air Force code" (Skreiner 1). The mops vivid examples of the paradoxes created by catch-22 come from the specific characters; Hungry Joe, Doc Daneeka, Orr, Milo Minderbinder, and Yossarian.

Probably the most peculiar paradox presented in Catch-22 is formed around a pilot named Hungry Joe. Following a common, logical train of thought, Hungry Joe wishes to finish his time in the war and return home, where his safety is guaranteed, and he is in no danger of being killed. The catch originates from a common junction of many of the catches characters ...

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... that he is so quickly able to persuade us (1) that the most lunatic are the most logical, and (2) that it is our conventional standards which lack any logical consistency"(Brustein 228). Catch-22 is about coping with what life throws you, then understanding the hopelessness, and still never giving up. Catch-22 is a novel that instructs the reader to do as Heller did, leave convention behind. It is wrong, only the individual matters, because without the soul, man is garbage.

Works Cited

Brustein, Robert. "Joseph Heller". CLC. 3:228.

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

Skreiner, David. "Catch-22" Downloaded from March 17, 1998.

Kennard, Jean. "Joseph Heller". CLC. 8:278.

Littlejohn, David. "Joseph Heller". CLC. 3:229.

Burhans, Clinton. "Joseph Heller". CLC. 3:230.
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