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Oct 27, 2013 04:53PM

10252 Okay. I will try to read it tonight. I have to finish a book for my library group tomorrow. I'll try to fit them both in.
Oct 27, 2013 04:50PM

10252 Discussion questions --May contain spoilers

Catch-22 Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

1.One of the most challenging aspects of this novel is piecing together the order in which events occur. How does Heller manipulate time, fragment the action and confuse cause and effect? More importantly, how does this confusing form fit the function? In other words, how does the way in which this story is told fit with what is actually happening in the story?

2.How is insanity defined in Catch-22? What characteristics do "crazy" characters have? Is madness the norm or an exception during wartime?

3.Does there seem to be any system of justice in the novel? Are "good" characters rewarded while "evil" ones punished? Can we clearly say who is "good" or "evil"? If not, is there such thing as justice at all?

4.Define the logic of Catch-22. What part does this logic play in the story being told?

5.Catch-22 is an allegory of the common man vs. the bureaucracy of modern-day America. In Catch-22, how does the administration of the Air Force abuse its power? How does it keep its men enlisted and active? If it doesn't care for the well-being of its men, what are its goals?

6.Are there any purely "good" characters in the book? If so, who are they and how is their goodness expressed? On the other hand, how do the more flawed characters demonstrate their cynicism, deceit, blindness, or lust for power?

7.Few of the characters ever form lasting friendships with fellow soldiers. How is the individual kept isolated from his peers? In what ways do they cope with their loneliness?

8.Why is Yossarian so obsessed with death? Is he correct in assuming everyone is out to kill him? How do the deaths of Nately and Snowden change him?

9.How does Yossarian keep his personal integrity amidst all the corruption and apathy in Pianosa? What particular characteristics does he value? And what moral lines does he refuse to cross?

10.Do you consider the ending of Catch-22 a happy or sad one? How might it be construed as a triumph for Yossarian? A defeat? Is it the only way out of the mad system of Catch-22?
Oct 27, 2013 04:47PM

10252 What's this? Our November 2013 Group Read & Movie discussion !

Book: Catch-22 (Catch-22, #1) by Joseph HellerCatch-22

Author: Joseph HellerJoseph Heller

Catch-22 (1970)
man is trying desperately to be certified insane during World War II, so he can stop flying missions.

Mike Nichols

Joseph Heller (novel), Buck Henry (screenplay)

Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin

When: The discussion will begin on November 1, 2013.

Spoiler etiquette: Please put a spoiler warning at the top of your post if discussing a major plot element. Include the chapter #

Synopsis: Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.
Oct 27, 2013 03:07PM

10252 I am going to read it tonight, Soph.

Does your response mean you didn't like it?
Oct 27, 2013 07:54AM


Today is the birthday of the 26th president of the United States: Theodore Roosevelt Jr., born in New York City on this date in 1858. He was born into privilege, but he was a sickly child and suffered from asthma, so he spent much of his time indoors. When his doctors discovered he had a weak heart, they advised him to live a quiet life and take some kind of a desk job that wouldn't prove too strenuous or stressful. But he dreamed of becoming a naturalist and an adventurer, and by the time he was a teenager, he had developed a program of rigorous exercise, including boxing and lifting weights.

He worked hard at Harvard and went on to study law at Columbia, but he grew impatient and left his studies in favor of politics, where he enjoyed many early successes. But on Valentine's Day, 1884, both his mother and his wife, Alice, died. Devastated, Roosevelt left behind the world of politics — and his baby daughter — to become a cattle rancher in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory. It would be two years before he returned to the New York political scene.

His political bent was progressive: he fought monopolies, reformed the workplace, regulated industry, and championed immigrants and the middle class. He supported desegregation and women's suffrage. He was serving as vice president under William McKinley when McKinley was assassinated in 1901. At age 42, Roosevelt was the youngest man ever to become president of the United States. And the sickly child had grown up into a man who championed "a life of strenuous endeavor," demanding that everyone around him adopt his now robust and active outdoor lifestyle. He served two terms — from 1901 to 1909 — and then after a few years away, returned to politics, feeling "fit as a bull moose," as he said. His quote gave rise to his Progressive Party's nickname, the "Bull Moose Party." He felt so fit that when he was shot in the chest during an assassination attempt, he continued campaigning for over an hour before seeking help, and he recovered quickly. Although he received the largest number of votes for a third-party candidate in U.S. history, he lost the election.

One of Roosevelt's lasting legacies is the conservation movement. As a young man, he had witnessed the near-eradication of the buffalo in the Dakota Territory, and he realized that action was necessary to preserve the country's natural resources and open spaces. During his presidency, he provided protection for almost 230 million acres of land, creating 150 national forests and five national parks. In 1908, he gave a speech at the Conference on the Conservation of Natural Resources, saying: "We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have been still further impoverished and washed into the streams [...] It is time for us now as a nation to exercise the same reasonable foresight in dealing with our great natural resources that would be shown by any prudent man in conserving and wisely using the property which contains the assurance of well-being for himself and his children."

Roosevelt's literary inclinations aren't as widely known as his national parks or his reputation as a hale and hearty outdoorsman, but they're unmatched by any other American president. He read voraciously, and quickly; it's said he read an entire book every day before breakfast. He loved poetry; Robert Frost once said, "He was our kind. He quoted poetry to me. He knew poetry."

Roosevelt wrote some three dozen books himself; his first, History of the Naval War of 1812 (1882) was published not long after he graduated from Harvard. In it, he boldly took on — and refuted — many of the accepted interpretations of the war, and he earned respect as a historian at the age of 23. Within two years, the book had sold three editions and was being used as a textbook in some college classrooms. Within five years, it was required reading in the U.S. Navy.

His work spanned a wide array of genres: history, political essay, biography, autobiography, natural science, foreign policy, and philosophy. He began writing when he was nine years old: a paper titled "The Natural History of Insects," which was based on hours of field research conducted by Roosevelt and his young cousins. And his last book, published just after his death in 1919, was a bound collection of warm and witty fatherly advice in the form of 20 years' worth of letters to his children.

He wrote, of his time in the Badlands: "My home ranch-house stands on the river brink. From the low, long veranda, shaded by leafy cotton-woods, one looks across sand bars and shallows to a strip of meadowland, behind which rises a line of sheer cliffs and grassy plateaus. This veranda is a pleasant place in the summer evenings when a cool breeze stirs along the river and blows in the faces of the tired men, who loll back in their rocking-chairs (what true American does not enjoy a rocking-chair?), book in hand — though they do not often read the books, but rock gently to and fro, gazing sleepily out at the weird-looking buttes opposite, until their sharp outlines grow indistinct and purple in the after-glow of the sunset."

That weak heart that the doctors discovered in his childhood caught up with him in the end. He died in his sleep, of a coronary embolism, at the age of 60. His son Archie cabled the news: "The old lion is dead."
Oct 26, 2013 06:57PM

10252 Wow ! That sounds amazing.
Oct 24, 2013 06:56PM

10252 :)
Oct 22, 2013 07:30PM

10252 1.) Describe Paul's personality as Cather sets it forth in the open paragraph of the story. Is this someone we like and admire?

Here is the opening paragraph

IT was Paul's afternoon to appear before the faculty of the Pittsburg High School to account for his various misdemeanors. He had been suspended a week ago, and his father had called at the principal's office and confessed his perplexity about his son. Paul entered the faculty room, suave and smiling. His clothes were a trifle outgrown, and the tan velvet on the collar of his open overcoat was frayed and worn; but, for all that, there was something of the dandy about him, and he wore an opal pin in his neatly knotted black four-in-hand, and a red carnation in his buttonhole. This latter adornment the faculty somehow felt was not properly significant of the contrite spirit befitting a boy under the ban of suspension.
The description made me like him. It was clear he was poor and was trying his best to look good. Even if others didn't understand his dress, he was being his own person. Even if that person didn't fit in with the norm.
Oct 22, 2013 07:26PM

10252 5...Do today's public schools deal effectively with problem students like Paul?

I am not involved with schools today. Though I would think with guidance counselors and such people are much more aware of Depression are on the lookout for it. Though as with anything, schools that are better funded are probably better at intervention.
Oct 22, 2013 07:23PM

10252 7.Which relationships seem to be a source of pleasure for Paul? Of pain?

The theater where he works seems to be one place where Paul shines. When this outlet is taken away from him he starts down the road to his ultimate death.

"The upshot of the matter was, that the principal went to Paul's father, and Paul was taken out of school and put to work. The manager at Carnegie Hall was told to get another usher in his stead, the doorkeeper at the theatre was warned not to admit him to the house, and Charley Edwards remorsefully promised the boy's father not to see him again."

"I happen to know that he was born in Colorado, only a few months before his mother died out there of a long illness".

I would think the school would have a bit more sympathy for him losing his mother at a tender age.

Then to take away the only thing he enjoyed, ushering at the theater, was the last straw. I don't see why the principal felt compelled to do this.
Oct 22, 2013 07:13PM

10252 1.Could Paul's suicide have been prevented?

That's hard to know. Though I think if the school and his teachers were more understanding and offered guidance and help that could have been a major step towards avoiding Paul's suicide.

Also it mentions Paul had depression. I don't recall it being said that he went for treatment for this medical issue. If not, that also could have helped. Though I don't know if the time when the story was set what medicines or psychiatric help might have been available.
Oct 22, 2013 07:07PM

10252 Discussion Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

1.Is Mathilde a sympathetic character? Can you identify with her? Do you care about her at the beginning, or at the end? Why or why not?

2.What do you think Maupassant/the narrator feels about his characters? Is he sympathetic? Distant? Judgmental?

3.How does Mathilde strike you as a woman? Does she capture some important part of what it means to be a woman now? Or is she just an old, bad stereotype?

4.Is there anything Mathilde could have done to make herself happy in her initial situation? Could her husband have done anything more?

5.Is "The Necklace" a cynical story – does it reflect a really bleak and jaded view of life? Does it have some other attitude towards life?

6.Does "The Necklace" have a moral? What is it, if it does?

7.What's your verdict on the story's ending? Does it affect you emotionally?

8.If the story hadn't ended with a twist, how do you think it would have ended? Could it have ended in any other way and been as effective (and short) a story?
Oct 22, 2013 07:05PM

10252 What's this? We are reading a few short stories for our group read this October

Book: The Necklace and Other Tales

Author: Guy de MaupassantGuy de Maupassant

Where: This discussion takes place in this thread

Book Details:
This is a short story.
A link to the story can be found at:

and at

You can also listen to the short story being read on YouTube

The Necklace" or "The Diamond Necklace" (French: La Parure) is a short story by Guy De Maupassant, first published on 17th February 1884 in the French newspaper Le Gaulois.[1] The story has become one of Maupassant's popular works and is well known for its ending. It is also the inspiration for Henry James's short story, "Paste

"The Necklace" tells the story of Madame Mathilde Loisel and her husband. Mathilde always imagined herself in a high social position with wonderful jewels. However, she has nothing and marries a low-paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy. Through lots of begging at work her husband is able to get a couple of invitations to the Ministry of Education party. Mathilde then refuses to go, for she has nothing to wear
Oct 21, 2013 08:17PM

10252 :) I like the quote from your wise sister, Rosie !
Oct 21, 2013 04:45PM

10252 If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost."
--Zig Ziglar
Oct 21, 2013 10:11AM

10252 :) Like Carmen Santiago.
Oct 21, 2013 10:09AM

10252 5.Why is Paul so willing to cut all ties with his family? Why doesn't he care about his family?

Perhaps he thinks his family doesn't care about him or understand him.

I think he cares for his family. He is depressed and hurt and maybe feeling a bit under attack with his teachers seemingly ganging up on him.
Oct 21, 2013 07:29AM

10252 Madrano wrote: "I'm looking forward to some hiking when we get to Louisiana. There's a trail that alligators sometimes cross--at least often enough that pets are not allowed on the trail. Children are, but i recko..."


I hope you can check in and maybe keep us apprized of your travels in a travel thread you can set up in our travel folder. Maybe a thread called, Where is the World is Deb ? :)

I know I will never be able to do what you are doing. So I would love to live a bit vicariously through you as I read about your great world adventure. Have a blast !
Oct 21, 2013 07:22AM

10252 Madrano wrote:"His teachers were in despair, and his drawing-master voiced the feeling of them all when he declared there was something about the boy which none of them understood...."

No, I didn't think he was bullied.

Though I wonder if he felt he was an outsider because of the things he enjoyed and liked. His teachers, family and friends thought him odd. When one is a teen often they feel as no one understands them. Imagine how Paul felt? He is homosexual and his wants and dislikes are not what the average kid longs for. If fact, he probably doesn't know what he wants in life. Who does? He resorts to a magazine to guide him. Also we have to recall the time period. Being gay was not as acceptable as it is today. He probably had no one to talk with.

The things he dreamed of and wanted were not what a "typical" boy wants. He dreamed of going to the theater. He wore a flower in his lapel and like to dress up. He longed for NYC. He wanted fresh flowers in his room. And the fact is these things do cost a lot of money. And while money is not everything, it is the key to theater, fine dining etc. He wanted a more refined life. A life that he really didn't understand as he was copying it from a magazine. That is all he had as a guide. A magazine. There was no one in his life he could talk to. It's kind of sad when you think about it. I guess I was more sympathetic towards Paul.

As to the end, I do think it shows that Paul didn't really think things through. I thought he clearly regretted his final action. The sudden epiphany, shows that he didn't think the theft and running away through. I think teens often do this. They think in the moment and not the long term consequences. Add to that the story states he had "depression". Something I am sure he was not being treated for.

He was in emotional pain and he thought he would enjoy this one final act and then end it all. He would show them! He didn't realize that things change and with time and maturity the pain would hopefully pass. He didn't know his dad paid back what he stole. An act the shows maybe that he does love his son and wants to help. People in Paul's situation, he was probably clinically depressed, often don't realize how many people do care. This realization came to him unfortunately too late. Sad indeed.

Anyway, this is just one interpretation of the story. I look forward to hearing yours. :)
Oct 20, 2013 09:37PM

10252 Welcome, Mhoira !

Thanks for joining in and sharing your thoughts.

I agree it's a sad story. I think he was young and everything can get blown all out of proportion.
When you are young you lack the long term perspective.

Do you think Paul was bullied ?

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