Catch 22 Humor Analysis

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Without much thought, humor can appear as a simple descriptive term for a work of literature, film, speech, or any form of entertainment. “Humor” is a two syllable word often used to describe something amusing. Diving deeper into the subject of “humor” however, reveals the complexity and truly expansive topic that is humor and how it can be used to promote serious messages. Three works of literature that are generally accepted to be “humorous” are Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Louisa May Alcott’s Transcendental Wild Oats, and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. These works of literature, although each written more or less than half a century apart, share some sound similarities. While these three books all utilise similar types of humor to convey their…show more content…
To start, the very idea of a “Catch-22” or the idea that a set of rules can lead people in an infinite unescapable loop is absurd. Yossarian, a Captain in the United States Air Force, attempts to escape the gruesome war by proving that he is crazy. By attempting to do this, however, he proves that he is not crazy, as no sane man would ever want to stay and fight in the war. The ridiculousness and absurdity of this situation, which reappears in situations like Major Major’s “you can only see me when I am not here,” is humerous simply because the reader cannot relate to the situation and finds it rediculous. Behind this humor, however, is a deeper meaning. The absurdity which each character experiences brings to light the message of the story: war is pointless. Colonel Cathcart, who put in place the unwritten rule of “Catch-22” did so simple because he wants to be promoted to a General. Major Major has never even flown a mission yet is promoted to Major because they “needed a new Major.” Major Major just wants to be left alone so he creates his own “Catch-22” so that no one can see him. Yossarian, who quickly learns that the Catch-22 means no escape, just wants to go home. These three characters, one a Captain, one a Major, and one a Colonel, all have their personal agendas which have nothing to do with the war effort. On top of being funny, their struggles show how pointless war is through showing how no one cares about the
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