Catch 22 Literary Analysis Essay

2111 Words 8 Pages
The chaotic, bustling military world in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 comes alive with its whirlwind of characters. Heller’s novel is filled with maniacs. There is no trace of mundane soldiers, pilots, or colonels. Instead, every man is wildly irrational. With this unifying characteristic, each man seems to be interchangeable. However, a work of fiction where there is no conflict between opposing views, forces, or ideology can have no plot, and subsequently, no valuable discussion. The protagonist of Catch-22 is a Captain named John Yossarian, who tries his hardest to navigate the absurd military management that uses him as a puppet to fight the war. He seems to blend into the military crowd because he is not sane enough to be distant, but not crazy …show more content…
With this, conversations and interactions become useless because everyone seems to miss the intended point. In a variety of situations, Yossarian is the one trying to navigate the interaction with some kind of rationality. The other character seems unable to determine what is important in the interaction. For example, in chapter 15, Aarfy remains annoyingly blissful during an attack on Bologna. Meanwhile, Yossarian alternates between screaming directions to the pilot and screaming vulgarities at Aarfy. He is stuck in a nightmare where he is unable to explain the danger they face. Aarfy is focused on understanding Yossarian’s words instead of reading the subtext of the situation. In chapter 22, Yossarian shockingly shows up naked to receive an honourable pin, but the colonel is instead worried about where to place the pin. In chapter 28, Dobbs has changed his mind about murdering Colonel Cathcart now that he has completed the necessary number of missions. Yossarian tries his hardest to convince him that the number will only rise again if he does not carry through with the murder, but Dobbs only restates that he is safe now that he’s met the required number. In these three instances, Yossarian’s characteristic fight for survival plays an important role in revealing the uselessness of communication. Yossarian is desperately trying to transfer messages of danger and sickness. These men remain instead in blindness and deafness, and make speech ineffective. They are unable to view their interactions in the grand scheme of things. Yossarian emphasizes Heller’s theme of misdirected priorities by being the only character to think rationally, in both his goals and his communication. Heller wants to stress to the reader that many people during wartime often focus on other things than the end of unnecessary deaths, and removal from

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