Essay on Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Essay on Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

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Catch 22

America has been involved in the cold war for years. The fear of communism is ruining lives. The country moves closer and closer to the Korean war. Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 is published. 1963- College students are seen wearing army fatigues with “Yossarian” name tags. Reports are being made about a “Heller Cult”. Bumper stickers are manufactured which read, “Better Yossarian then Rotarian”. The phrase “Catch 22” has surfaced meaning a “no win situation” it is now an excepted word in the English dictionary. Such a dramatic change in opinion from the earlier, Pro-war society, it is obvious that Catch 22 had some impact on the anti-war movement of the 1960’s-1970’s. Not to say the book was the one reason the movement started, It was certainly a catalyst. A protest novel, Heller’s story portrays the absurdity of bureaucracy, the stupidity of war, and the power they both have to crush the human spirit. Heller uses a war zone setting, to satirise society at large. He compares the commanding officers to Incompetent businessmen. “Don’t mumble, and mumble “sir” when you do, and don’t interrupt, and say “sir” when you do.” Desiring promotion over every thing else, Colonel Cathcart keeps raising the number of missions the men of his squadron must fly. Even though the army says they need fly only forty, a bureaucratic trap called “Catch 22” says they can’t go home at forty because they must obey their commanding officers. Much like the work place, the men are forced to go through endless amounts of red tape, which hardly gets them anywhere. Yossarian tries to pretend he is crazy to get out of fighting. He signs “Washington Irving” on letters he censors, and walks around naked for a couple of days. If someone is crazy he needs onl...


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...has to their country. Should they die for their country, or should they question the authority? Is something right, just because everybody says it is? By asking these questions, Mr. Heller was able to appeal to the youth of that day who were asking just the same questions. People were able to rally around his book, because they all could relate to what they were reading. Not to say everyone was a WW-II bombardier, They all were having the same thoughts on war. Mr. Heller uses a perfect blend of realism and totally unreal situations to create his crazy world, a symbol of the absurdity of modern bureaucracy. This novel is a far cry from earlier novels about WW-II, usually heroic with realistic language, just concentrating on the actual fighting. This book is not about heroism. It is about the preservation of individuality. Something that is now important to all of us.

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