The Atrocity Of War

The Atrocity Of War

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The Atrocity of War More than an end to war, we want an
end to the beginning of all wars - yes, an end to this brutal,
inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the
differences between governments (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
In some people’s minds, war is glorified. The romanticized
perspective that society bases war on is reversed in the
book Catch-22. The Vietnam War established the book as
an anti-war classic because of the war’s paradoxical nature.
Heller perceives war as a no win situation. The book
elaborates on the sane and the insane ways of the nation.
The question is who is to determine the insane? It all comes
back to the paradox that 'Catch-22' delivers. The trauma
this book illustrates threatens the government’s ideal of
peace. There was a time when Heller’s classic satire on the
murderous insanity of war was nothing less than a rite of
passage. Throughout the book it reveals a portrait of war
that is the reality. The sarcasm and structure of this novel is
Heller’s way to show the actuality of war’s dispair. The
author exemplifies war as trivial; his characters are not
fighting the enemy, but they are fighting within themselves.
The world has known war ever since the beginning of time,
but time has to change if the nation is going to prosper in a
positive direction. In Catch-22 most of the sane characters
put all of their time and energy into getting home. Yossarian,
the main character in the book, was the most determined to
stay alive. “The enemy,” retorted Yossarian, “is anybody
who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on”
(120). All around him he felt people were trying to kill him.
His main fear was everyone, including his troops, were
shooting at him. Yossarian informs, “They’re trying to kill
me” (11). Everywhere he turned he thought people were
after him. Even in the dining hall, he sensed the cooks
wanted to poison him. With the trauma he went through
nobody can blame him for being paranoid. Anything he
could do to get out of missions he tried. The goal that he set
was to go home alive, and he would do anything to achieve
it. Never did he think twice about what duty he had to
accomplish for his government. The whole objective in war
is for innocent people to die. Not only did Yossarian fight to
go home, but also he fought with the guilt he had to
encounter for his lack of bravery. Nothing that he faced
could stop him from leaving the war. Not only did he have to
battle the constant fear of death, he also had to fight the

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inner trauma that was killing him inside. Another character in
the story who struggles against his own internal conflicts with
reality is Doc Daneeka. His character represents many of
the soldiers who go to war. All Daneeka was worried about
was his own welfare. His patients would approach him in
much more of a terrible condition than he was, but he would
only be concerned about himself. Not only did he hate
participating in the war, but also hated flying in airplanes.
Doc stated in his own words, “I don’t have to go looking for
trouble in an airplane” (28). He felt that troubles come after
him so there is no reason to take any actions that might get
him involved in more trouble. Instead of taking the initiative
to help the injured he opted to save his own life. The last
thing he was worried about was his American pride. Nothing
was more important to him than getting out of the war
predicament. The status of his men were not of a significance
to him. Doc was interested in the economic, social, and
political conditions of his own benefit. Just as many soldiers
do in war, Daneeka didn’t understand why this was
happening to him. He pointed out, “You think you have
something to be afraid about” (171)? The Doc lost
everything he had and all of the potential because of the war.
He left at the end of the novel as a dead man that is really
alive, which just is an example of a catch-22. War was not
an option to him; it was something he had to do. The
magnified viewpoint that the government perceives war as is
altered as soon as a solider steps on the battlefield. Doc
never had the outlook of a brave man. His soul was
concealed in cowardliness. It all comes down to the same
concept of war; people stop fighting for their country, and
they start fighting for their lives. The question of ‘is he crazy’
is asked throughout the book. The answer is sometimes
hidden deep inside a person. It is often unrecognizable. A
misinterpreted character in the book is Orr. He is
Yossarian’s “playful” roommate. He comes across as being
a little crazy. He faced the terror of being in war along with
all of the others. Though Orr was different; he reacted to his
fear. Out of all of the characters he was the smartest. All of
the shock he experienced drove him away from the war. His
plan to leave the base worked! When he disappeared he
was determined as dead, when actually he was hiding. His
timid outlook of war came out in his actions, but that shows
his heartache of the experiences he encounters in the war.
His character was misunderstood from the very beginning. It
all started with his “apple cheeks”. Orr told Yossarian a
story about his apple cheeks; “When I was a kid I used to
walk around with crab apples in my cheeks. One in each
cheek,” (16). The intelligence that Orr had, actually had
saved his life. He never intended to save his country, but
only to go home alive. What is the purpose of war if virtuous
men with no intentions in helping the country are only fighting
for their own lives? Orr is another example of someone
trying to live for the joy of life. In his eyes life comes first
then his country comes second. The book Catch-22 uses
many tactics to make a mockery of war, and it shows the
men fighting are not fighting for their county, but only for
their lives. Heeler is trying to get a strong point across. Life
is much more important than a fight between governments.
No matter how it is looked at, war is murder. The term
‘catch 22’ pictures war perfectly. In war winning is not an
option. Even if the country pulls out a victory thousands of
people are then dead. Not to forget the thousands of broken
hearts around the world because their loved ones are dead.
The only thing benefiting from war is the government, and a
lot of times it does not always come out on top. Catch-22
catches war in the eyes of the men fighting, and it does not
disguise the true terror that it brings. The characters in the
story who were the most sane were the ones who fought for
their lives, and not for their country. “War does not decide
who is right, only who is left,” (Lao Tse).
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