Futility Of War, By Joseph Heller

Decent Essays
Futility of War Chinese General and philosopher, Sun Tzu once alleged, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” (Tzu). The aforementioned quote is an ability that humans have yet to perfect, despite eras of social development. Humankind has fought against themselves for thousands of years and little has come of all the bloodshed and carnage. It can be derived that war has done more harm than good, and thus is an unnecessary figment of human nature. Such theme is evident in two masterpieces of literature; one titled Catch-22, written by Joseph Heller and the other being Troy, directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Despite the 3200 year timespan between World War II and the Trojan War, represented respectfully in these pieces, …show more content…
Although Yossarian was the protagonist in Catch-22, he did not represent the archetypes of a typical hero. Yossarian’s primary goal throughout the novel was to avoid risking his own life. The author writes, “Yossarian was a lead bombardier who had been demoted because he no longer gave a damn whether he missed or not. He had decided to live forever or die in attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive” (Heller 29). Throughout the text, Yossarian’s character is defined as selfish and aimless and thus he valued himself more than anything else. He valued neither fame nor fortune; all Yossarian desired was to live a long life, whether or not it was meaningful. He had no concern over who won the war because he strongly believed that if he had died, it did not matter; alternatively if he survived, he had accomplished his only mission - survival. Yossarian despised war and arrived at the conclusion that war was fruitless combat where “everyone was trying to kill him” (Orwell 34). On the other hand, Achilles, who was regarded as the greatest warrior to ever live, had a very different purpose when having to fight in the Trojan War. Achilles was told by his mother, Thetis, to: stay in Larisa, get married, have loving children, find peace, …show more content…
In turn this provided them with a crucial component of life to value. To the untrained eye, one might think that Yossarian never experienced love in his tragic experiences in World War II, because Yossarian abhors the majority of characters introduced in the plot. However, Yossarian develops a strong relationship with some officers in his squadron; particularly Snowden. Heller writes, “The actual contact with the dead flesh had not been nearly as repulsive as he had anticipated, and he found an excuse to caress the wound with his fingers again and again to convince himself he cared” (Heller 438). Snowden was minutes from death and although his death did not affect Yossarian, he stayed behind and gave his best effort to save Snowden’s life. What goes unnoticed is Yossarian potentially risked his own life in the process due to the surrounding environment. Yossarian portrayed grief for his fallen comrade because he truly cared for the health of Snowden. He revealed a glimpse of love and devotion although he would not admit such an act nor emotion. At this moment, Yossarian had forgotten about the war. This is representative of Yossarian’s love and concern for Snowden; and would stay apparent for the remainder of the novel. Love diverged Yossarian’s concern over survival in war while provoking his realization that there is more to existence

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