Catch-22 Literary Analysis

1255 Words6 Pages
Catch-22 is an American literary classic, which delves deeply into the many diverse characters stationed at a fictional island, Pianosa, during the Second World War. This novel shows the side of war which is overlooked in almost every other book or movie; instead of highlighting the action of war, it shows us detailed personalities, and sub-plots in a humorous way as well as questioning human philosophy and at the same time, showing the stupidity of war. The author of Catch-22 is Joseph Heller who served in the U.S Air force during WWII uses his personal experiences to create a story that draws criticism towards war and the U.S military in general. The story follows the main character of Captain Yossarian who is a paranoid bomber in the 256th…show more content…
As the book progresses, more and more characters end up dying, increasing fear with the remaining airmen after every death. The attitude of the officers counteract this, most of them being indifferent to the survival of themselves or their men, generally only caring about their reputation; Lieutenant Scheisskopf “cared deeply about winning parades” (Heller 71) and Colonel Cathcart “was overjoyed, for he was relieved of the embarrassing commitment to bomb Bologna without a blemish to the reputation for valor he had earned by volunteering his men to do it” (Heller 120). Heller characterizes officers as men who disregard the lives of others by using them as chess pieces in a game of chess they do not want to be a part of. One method that represents the commanders disregard for life is the raising of flying missions by the orders of Colonel Cathcart which acts as an impassable obstacle. Most of the officers in this story view Yossarian as crazy and paranoid but as the book progresses Yossarian is represented by the desperate survival of human nature while the commanders are painted as antagonists who needlessly push their men into dangerous situations. As more of Yossarian’s men die on his watch he increasingly becomes more hostile towards the command, even refusing to wear his uniform and instead be…show more content…
The first half of the book dedicates entire chapters to describing the physical appearance and character traits of the airmen as well as the what they did before the war, so “the reader could have a better understanding of the chaos and absurdity that the characters experience”(Yan Jun). The narrator goes through great lengths to build up character descriptions, sub-plots, and backstories but wastes no time when describing a death of a character. Characters like Kid Sampson, Nately, Hungry Joe, etc seem to die somewhat randomly. Instead of having an intense build up of a death, the narrator gave Kid Sampson “propeller to slice him half away” (Heller 337) instead of a long, drawn out death. While not all characters are given a quick, unimportant death, the ones that do represent the most brutal aspect of war: uncertainty. The quick removal of characters gives the reader an idea of how common death and suffering occurs in war, which can happen at any place at any given
Open Document