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An Analysis of Catch 22

Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, is a critique of the society that we

live in. Whoever is proud of what we have advanced to, and is unwilling to

look at it in a negative light, would find this book very subversive. It

threatens and criticizes the way of living of most who pride themselves in

living a modern life. Heller shows through the ridiculousness of war how

misguided much of modern society has become, in spite of all our so called

civilized advancement. Some will find this interesting, thought provoking

and enjoy this book. Others will take it as a direct threat and insult to

all the work they have done.

From the very beginning, Heller shows some of the most popular

ideas and values of the day in a negative, questioning light. In particular,

he shows the negative consequences of conformity and highlights

individuality as a way to survive. He wants us to recognize how one is

controlled and stifled by society.

The leading character in this novel, addressing what has gone wrong

with society, is Yossarian. He is the only one who recognizes the full

craziness of what everyone is living for: wealth, false happiness,

society's approval, etc. He is one of the few who tries to fight the power

and elitism that have become so sought after in America. Throughout the

novel, he tries to find a way to live a fuller life as a real human

individual. He looks to many of the other characters in the book for help

but only finds unsatisfactory answers.

Each of the characters in Yossarian's life at the base shows the

reader one more example of how bad society has become. Clavinger tries to

live life by reasoning. He looks for a reason in everything. In constantly

looking for a reason why, he never enjoys life to it fullest. As further

proof that this life leads nowhere, he is shot down and killed, certainly

not an event with a rational explanation. Major Major is the person who

obeys everyone, always trying to be perfect. He does everything that anyone

asks of him, but takes it to an extreme. By being so naively obedient,

instead of being helped by his comrades, he is shunned.
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