The Absurd In Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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World leaders may argue justifiable reasons for war, including war being the most viable means to defeat an irrational, uncivilized common enemy; others, including those whose very lives are at risk, may define war was unreasonable, risky, and even absurd “in which human beings exist in an irrational, meaningless universe and in which human life has no ultimate meaning” (“The Absurd”). The fictitious novel, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, describes the violent yet absurd and meaningless nature of World War II and the young men who are forced to sacrifice their sanity and lives to protect their countries. The novel weaves together a variety of loosely related stories that depict a war of irrational events, absurd characters who are driven to the point of insanity, and a satirical, senseless, commanding bureaucracy. Although the novel takes place during a violent, deadly war, the novel…show more content…
Throughout the novel, Heller reinforces the theme that warfare is absurd, irrational, and counterproductive. Heller uses characters, such as Major Major, to dramatize the faults of war and its leaders to establish the theme that war leaders, and therefore the war they drive, are absurd and irrational. Heller focuses on the flawed characters of military personnel to fully expose the inner childish effect that the irrationality of war has on humans. In particular, Heller uses satire to undermine war through his description of the secluded character, Major Major, who is promoted to major even though he had no military experience and was given the name “Major Major Major Major.” The unnecessary promotion of an unskilled and incompetent leader highlights the ridiculousness of war, as decisions regarding the safety of other air force pilots are made out of pure humor and lack any form of careful consideration. Heller undermines war by describing the humor of promoting an incompetent leader as more important to the military authority than the safety of the pilots
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