Madness and Absyrdity in Catch-22

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Madness and Absurdity in Catch-22

Bureaucracy and war are common subjects of many satirical novels, but Joseph Heller creates a complete illogical and absurd world formulated around both of these subjects in his own satirical work, Catch-22. In Heller’s formless novel Catch-22, Yossarian, the protagonist and a young bombardier, is stationed on the small island of Pianosa during World War II along with with many other “insane,” complex, and significant characters, who are forced into carrying an always increasing number of dangerous flying missions. While Yossarian is deployed, he struggles with the inevitability of death and his mortality, defining his own morals, finding a way to survive, and the horror of war during the chaos and carnage of World War II. The motifs of madness and absurdity, along with the theme of sanity vs insanity, circulate throughout; Heller uses many of the characters’ thoughts, actions, and the famous “Catch-22” to illustrate these themes. Heller uses different literary, satirical, and absurdist techniques, such as paradoxical statements and irony, to criticize the meaninglessness of war and life and the corrupt nature of the bureaucracy.
First of all, Heller’s Catch-22 is a satirical novel, as stated above. While there are many different possible satirical techniques, such as irony and exaggeration, that Heller uses, he focuses mainly on using comedy, particularly dark or black humor, to satirize the bureaucracy, war, and life. As Daniel Green says, “no character, not even the apparent protagonist, escapes the ravages of mockery and ridicule”(Green). Heller uses several main comedic events in the novel to satirize the bureaucracy. The first event is Doc Daneeka's so-called “death.” Doc Daneeka, who hate...

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...ooking at the government, would it be possible that it is just as absurd and illogical as the bureaucracy in Catch-22?

Works Cited

Green, Daniel. "A World Worth Laughing At: Catch-22 and the Humor of Black Humor." Studies in the Novel 27.2 (Summer 1995): 186-195. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism.
Kennard, Jean E. "Joseph Heller: At War with Absurdity." MOSAIC 4.3 (Spring 1971): 75-87.
Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select.
Merrill, Robert. "Catch-22: Its Structure and Meaning." Joseph Heller. Boston: Twayne,
1987. 33-54. Twayne's United States Authors Ser. 512
Mainuli, Matthew H., “Catch-22 and the Triumph of the Absurd”. Senior Theses, Trinity College,
Hartford, CT 2012. Trinity College Digital Repository, Potts, Stephen W. Catch-22: Antiheroic Antinovel. Boston, MA: Twayne,1989.Print.

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