The modern literary work Catch-22 is a historical novel about World War II, and the great levels of madness existent within itsThe theme of Catch-22:
The modern literary work Catch-22 is a historical novel about World War II, and the great levels of madness existent within its far reaching landscape. The book is named after a simple rule called catch-22, which defines the problems people face in war. A catch-22 is a situation, procedure, and or regulation in which the subject is deemed powerless, devoid of choice, despite what the subject thinks or does. The first instance of catch-22 in the book takes place in a situation involving the main character, John Yossarian, while on a flight mission. Yossarian wants to be grounded, but for this to happen he must be confirmed “insane” by a flight surgeon. However, anyone who desires to be grounded must indeed be “sane” because he or she obviously fears for their life. Catch-22, then, is clearly an insurmountable obstacle, dooming all the unfortunates trapped within it. There are multiple instances of Catch-22 in the novel, and while each is different in its own way, they all serve as important segments to the story. Heller uses the theme of catch-22 to explain the unattainable quality of desire, the illogical psyche of the military, and the karma present when someone acts in accordance with catch-22.
One of the largest, if not the largest, landscape in which the theme Catch-22 is utilized lays within the boundaries of desire, and how difficult it is to satisfy within a catch-22. This is evident in chapter sixteen, when Yossarian wants to marry Luciana, “Yossarian wrinkled his forehead with quizzical amusement, ‘You won’t marry me because I’m crazy, and you say I’m crazy because I want to marry you? Is that right?” (Heller, 159). In the discussion it is made known that Luciana will not marry a person if he is “insane”. Then, it is made known that no one wants to marry a girl who is not a virgin. So, when Yossarian asks why he cannot marry her, she explains how he is insane for wanting to marry her, as she is not a virgin. In the end, it is impossible for anyone to marry Luciana, for a catch-22 envelops her current physiological status. Why is this important? Well, from Heller’s standpoint, any person who desperately wants something cannot simply have it; instead they must go out of their way to attain it. That person must sacrifice something. However this is not what Yossarian does. Instead he forgets Luciana, and looks for someone else who is easier to work with. This idea of sacrifice is evident at the end of the novel when Yossarian desperately wants to escape the war. He has the OK from his officers to not fly deadly missions, but in return they must have his admiration. He finds this route to be a direct betrayal of his comrades, who would then have to fly his missions and risk the harm initially meant for him. In the past, Yossarian has rejected such deals from his superiors, but this time he accepts the offer. Almost coherently thereafter, Yossarian is stabbed multiple times in the chest by a crazed woman. It seems as if the solutions to Yossarian’s desires are instantly and continually rejected by catch-22, for most are crushed soon after being exercised by his actions. This fact strikes as a major blow to Yossarian’s self confidence, which is a symbolic event, for his character often reflects joy in the present, and hope for the future. Eventually, Yossarian becomes enlightened to “escape” the grasp of catch-22 by fleeing the war altogether, rather than falsely embracing it through rotten proposals. With this decision, Yossarian openly rejects the catch-22 mentality, escaping from a war destined to kill him.
In Catch-22, America’s war machine is depicted as the official source of deficiency, insanity, and misery evident throughout the novel. These aspects are shown via a description of Yossarian’s camp. His camp serves as the foundation of unintelligence and disorder evident in Catch-22’ setting, and it becomes Heller’s instrument in condemning the broader effects of the war. Because Yossarian lives in the camp, Yossarian lays mere inches from madness, later brewing thoughts of murder, walking about naked, and suffering from depression. Every other chapter of Catch-22 takes a look at how hectic the events within the camp really are, albeit also showing how each is clearly tied to a catch-22. One example, which does not involve Yossarian, takes place in Major Major Major Major’s office. In chapter 9, Major Major explains to Sergeant Towser, “‘From now on… I don’t want anyone to come and see me while I’m in here. Is that clear?’ … ‘What shall I say to the people who do come to see you while you’re here?’ ‘Tell them I’m in and ask them to wait’ ‘Yes, sir. For how long?’ ‘Until I’ve left’” (98). Major Major is a mediocre and socially awkward man in charge of many people including a religious councilor called the Champlain, who wishes to speak with Major Major. However, this act is impossible due to Major Major’s request to not be disturbed unless he is absent. In the case that he is available, Major Major requests to be unreachable. This is a perfect example of catch-22, one that inhibits work, and inflicts stress upon a squadron full of questions that have no way of being answered. This is not the only account of idiocy directed at the war setting. When Yossarian and his men intentionally bomb the wrong target, his superiors grant them medals, hoping to somehow overshadow the event. Yossarian’s superiors do not particularly care about their soldiers. Rather, what they fight and persevere to achieve is a raise in rank, more specifically, status. Heller’s overall goal in writing catch-22 is to expose the true aspects of war: it is waged incorrectly, run with incompetence, and killing is the only component essential to “win”.
The theme of catch-22 illustrates the nature of karma: when a person’s actions are to naturally or supernaturally reoccur in that person’s life. Near the end of the novel, Yossarian is confronted with a decision that will either kill him, or his friends. If he chooses to continue flying missions, he will most certainly die. However, if he chooses to be grounded by his superiors, his missions will be passed along to the other men, and they will surely die. At the end of the novel, after choosing the selfish route, Yossarian is nearly murdered by an assassin. This is a perfect example of the karma present in everyday life. In this catch-22 scenario, karma is the end result of doing the wrong thing. Once again, the selfish route leads directly into death – Yossarian’s only fear in the world. Furthermore, the resolution of the novel is when Yossarian decides to run from battle, suggesting that the solution to a catch-22 is openly rejecting it, “Yossarian: ‘I didn’t create the situation’ Major Danby: ‘But you can resolve it. And what else can you do? You don’t want to fly more missions.’ ‘I can run away’ ‘Run Away?’ ‘Desert. Take off. I can turn my back on the whole damned mess and start running.’” (444). Karma is important in Catch-22 for many reasons; one reason being that it finally establishes a supernatural, almost evil portrayal of the catch-22 condition. Another reason being that karma is thought to occur in real life, thus the theme catch-22 can be related to real life as well. Surely it was Heller’s intent to relate the theme of catch-22 to the reader, because then he/she could more easily sympathize with the characters and their problems. In a nutshell, the scene shows how karma is the result of cooperating with the military, therefore a consequence of trying to avoid a catch-22.
In Catch-22, Heller uses the theme of catch-22 to help the reader understand a number of important items. One item is the trap of desire, and how no matter what a person does, he/she cannot seem to quench it. Every dilemma the character Yossarian faces is protected by an aura of defense, more specifically, a catch-22. Unfortunately, Yossarian has many desires – love, comfort, and peace – yet none seem to be attainable. In time, Yossarian finds that catch-22 is his greatest enemy, and learns that the only way to defeat it is by refusing to confront it. By this, his greatest desire is fulfilled: being grounded from missions. In addition to displaying the ungraspable nature of desire, Heller uses the theme of catch-22 to make aware the illogical nature of America’s war tactics. This is done by placing Yossarian in a camp bursting with unintelligent officers, their absurd orders, and the chaos that subsequently ensues. At long last, karma brings Yossarian to his knees. He cannot bear the thought of dying, yet neither can he bear the thought of betraying his friends. So, in an act of revelation, and desperation, Yossarian shocks the reader by running from the war altogether. Catch-22 revitalizes the idea of hopelessness, shown through several accounts of the impossible. However, when all is said and done, Heller gives hope to the hopeless, and a solution to the unsolvable. ...more
Once again I read and dislike a strategy guide, this one guiding (ruining) your Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess walk. Zelda games are RPG's, each wOnce again I read and dislike a strategy guide, this one guiding (ruining) your Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess walk. Zelda games are RPG's, each with a unique storyline, each spoiled before your eyes after the purchase of a strategy guide. ...more
This was a strategy guide I could appreciate. The Starcraft campaign is a difficult one, and requires a good amount of guidance. The levels have beenThis was a strategy guide I could appreciate. The Starcraft campaign is a difficult one, and requires a good amount of guidance. The levels have been deemed painful by some and impossible by others, so the creation of this book is somewhat understandable when compared to the creation of guides unfolding plot driven games. This prima still spoils the ending, and most of the plot thereof....more