Catch 22 Literary Analysis

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Competition is a part of human nature, and there is no escaping it. “The cost of any kind of competition in human terms is incalculable” as well as incredibly unhealthy, according to Alfie Kohn, an author and lecturer. The anti-war book Catch-22, published by Joseph Heller in 1961, ironically takes place during World War II on the island of Pianosa located in the Mediterranean Sea. Catch-22 depicts several different characters and overall events that assist in helping to prove how competition is inevitably corrupt. An article by Donald Kovis, “The Invidious Nature of Competition”, also supports how competition contains an unescapable negative nature. Two of the supporting characters, General Dreedle and General Peckem, are seen to both have…show more content…
It is evident that the feud between America and Germany was the strongest as the protagonist, Yossarian, would casually speak of how he would weave his plane “…through the filthy barrages of flak…each on a pushover for the German fighters…for there were no German fighters anymore…” (Heller 20). The rivalry between the two opposing countries is obvious with how nonchalantly Yossarian speaks of bombing the enemy with no regrets. The war has caused Yossarian to not care about how the country he is fighting for has taken so many German lives that the country barely has any fighters left. The rivalry of the countries caused Yossarian to become desensitized to it, showing how the competitiveness of war has created this unhealthy nature. Later on when the “…Germans are being driven out… [and] Italian soldiers are not dying anymore. But American and German soldiers are. I call that doing extremely well” further demonstrates the harmful effects of the competition has also caused not only Yossarian to become desensitized, but also the rest of the army (Heller 186). The war has caused many of the American soldiers to become completely desensitized to killing anyone from opposing forces to the point of not caring if people from their side lose their lives as well. These soldiers have one thing in mind, killing the enemy. As long as people from the Axis…show more content…
Yet, no one claims that competition can be also be seen as the root evil, through all of its unhealthy outcomes that are seen in an assortment of events in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The feud between General Peckem and General Dreedle materialized because of the competition of Peckem yearn for power. It also caused General Dreedle to develop an unhealthy habit of alcohol affecting both his mind and body. Another example is the war they are all involved in. World War II is the reason why everything in the novel is even happening. The war is a battle between the Alliance and Axis to see who will come out victorious. If winning means becoming desensitized to the world around them, then that is fine for the characters, like Yossarian. This too is another unhealthy response from competition. In an article by Donald Kovis, it further delves into the outcomes of competition and corresponds with the aftermath of the events in Catch-22. Competition may never leave the system humankind and will always be prevalent to create unhealthy consequences, however, society as a whole can work together to avoid and end
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