Satire in Catch-22

1856 Words8 Pages
It may seem ridiculous to use humor to explain problems with political and social issues, but satire allows authors to do this in a very respected academic fashion. Satire first finds its roots in Roman poet Horace’s writing style between 65 and 8 BCE. Coined “Horatian satire”, self-depricating and whitty writing manifests itself in many ancient and modern forms of written word. However, Juvenal, late first century and early second century Roman poet decide to take Horace’s form of satire a step further. “Juvenalian satire” becomes a harsher and more aggressive form of satirical writing. (Source here) 1950s and ‘60s author Joseph Heller joins a long-standing tradition of satirical writing in his critically acclaimed novel set during World War II, Cath-22. How humans think about the human condition and the state of 20th century American warfare are both heavily satirized in a Juvenalian style throughout the course of the book, but bureaucracy and, furthermore, the American government, are the main targets of Heller’s Juvenalian satire.
(announcing subject of thesis)How the American military represents the human condition is the first satirized concept introduced in Heller’s novel. The American military is composed of three universal elements from Heller’s perspective: humanity’s search for meaning, the common bond humans have to communicate through language, and the fate that all humans share, mortality. An American soilder’s search for meaning ultimately stems from trying to break away from the anonymity of the army as a collective. The American military wants to take away the individual aspect from a soldier’s life. The soldier in white is the embodiment of every soldier’s greatest fear, the fear that an individual can be repl...

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...rfare through satire, but is much more interested in ultimately exposing bureaucracy and the American government as a whole. Irony and humor forces the reader to think critically about the many layers Heller uses.

Works Cited

Ghosh, Nibir K. "War and the Pity of War: Joseph Heller's Catch-22." IUP Journal of English Studies 7.2 (2012): 51-60. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Simon, 1961.
Perry, Nick. "Catch, Class and Bureaucracy: The Meaning of Joseph Heller's Catch 22." Sociological Review 32.4 (n.d.): 719-41. SocINDEX. Web.
Scoggins, Michael C. "Joseph Heller's Combat Experiences in Catch-22." War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities. 15.1/2 (2003): 213-27. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Solomita, Alec, and Harold Bloom. "Yossarian Section." New Criterion 26.7 (2008): 60-63. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
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