Essay on Impotence of Language in Heller's Catch-22

1723 Words Nov 9th, 2014 7 Pages
Alexandra Katkinová
Mgr. Eva Hrkalová
Introduction to Literature II (Group D)
May 30, 2014

The Impotence of Language in Catch-22 The main purpose of this essay is to develop better understanding of the nature of language in Heller’s Catch-22 and analyse its role in communication among the main characters. In particular, this essay will provide the reader with a closer look at the factors that influence the communicative power of language used in the novel. At the same time, the consequences of their presence will be discussed in detail throughout the whole paper.
While the main purpose of language is to communicate, Joseph Heller creates the world in which language loses its function as a tool for communication in favour of an
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What remains incomprehensible is the reason why such miscommunication occurs in the first place. Why do some of the characters show particular blindness or deafness to the reality that stands in front of them? Do they do that on purpose, or is the author, who by creating absurd conversations full of paradox, attempts to emphasize the absurdity of the world that “is governed by crazy laws” (Combs, Nimmo 150)? According to the book The Comedy of Democracy by James E. Combs and Dan D. Nimmo, the novel and its concept speak to individual hopelessness in a world dominated by impersonal and indifferent organizations. The comic and absurdity become an integral part of book’s speech patterns, often offering cynical and wry explanations of what the army is up to (Combs, Nimmo 151). Although language loses its power to provide an explanation when it comes to absurd situations, such as the fictive death of Doc Daneeka, it perfectly manages to reflect and communicate senselessness of war and the role that bureaucracy plays in it to the reader. In that aspect language fulfils its potential and one cannot speak of its impotence. To take yet another illustration of how the nature of language can be influenced, one has to take into consideration the effect the war and its circumstances have on the lives of the soldiers. They equally influence the communicative power of language, namely the atmosphere of the communication itself.

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