The Quandary Explored by Yossarian in Catch 22
Heller's principle emphasis is on the internal struggle with conflicting values and the characters' evolution. He creates a quandary that Yossarian explores throughout the novel, and establishes Yossarian's world as one turned upside down by war. After exploring this chaotic condition and the mess it creates on people's values, Yossarian finally arrives at his decision to withdraw from the conflict. In the first half of the war, Yossarian runs. As he comes to terms with himself, he takes responsibility and explores life beyond himself.
Identifying his adversary after careful reasoning, Yossarian names the enemy as
"'anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on...'" (Heller 120).
Yossarian mistakenly blames others for his situation. Throughout the book, it is an evolution in itself as he realizes he is the only one in control of his fate.--he is the center of his universe. By refusing to conform, he causes all characters (some with more insight than others) to be confronted with possible meanings and logic behind his unusual behavior. "You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate."
"Consciously, sir, consciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. "I hate them consciously." "You're antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you're a manic-depressive!" (313) With this, Yossari...
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...ealing with the use of varying perspectives in value or moral judgements, to enhance certain traits. To complete the exploration of contrast, Yossarian asks, "..How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to blackguards for petty cash, how many had never had souls?" (423). Heller does not offer clearly defined answers, but he raises many good questions through Yossarian's war experiences. The main evolution revolves around Yossarian's status and state of mind. It is in the self-exploration and the absurd, often immoral values that surround him that Yossarian achieves his main role of hero.However, by resorting to trying to escape after much change in values in perspective, Yossarian, in the process of doing so, sheds his claim to the heroic role.