Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove

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The Bureau-Catch
In Joseph Heller’s novel, Catch-22, and Stanley Kubrick’s film, Dr. Strangelove, the bureaucrats are illustrated as illogical and untrustworthy. Heller’s attention to administrations such as the hospital and the military-establishment are recognized for their unreliable rationality and logic. Similarly, in Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick mocks the absurdities of the nuclear arms race and of the officials of the United States and The Soviet Union as he conveys the malfunction of highly placed government bureaucrats. Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove, are two satirical and somewhat historical works that effectively comment on the corrupt and perhaps insane bureaucrats. The lives of Yossarian and the men in his squadron in Catch-22 are not determined by their own decisions but instead, by the decisions of the impersonal bureaucracy. The bureaucrats are absolutely oblivious to any attempt the men make to reason with them logically. Major Major, for example, will only see people in his office if he is not there and sends them away when he returns. Doc Daneeka refuses to ground Yossarian for his “insanity” because Yossarian’s desire to be grounded reveals that he is sane. Doc Daneeka elaborates in his discussion of Orr, Yossarian’s tent-mate. “Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.” (46)

Yossarian and the others in his squadron find that what they say and do has little effect on their fate when the bureaucracy controls them. Their only option is to follow the illogical rules and use what is expected of them to their own advantage. Yossarian’s superiors are more concerned with getting a promotion than they are about winning the war....
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