Insanity vs. Sanity
Imagine being stuck in a box with absolutely no way out. Everyday becomes another struggle to escape only to find that you are being controlled and confined for no apparent reason. One would eventually let reality slip through their hands and welcome insanity into their empty minds. This is the life of the men in the novel Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 introduces a world were sanity and insanity have switch places, were the logical man is pronounced crazy and the insane man is pronounced a hero. In the novel Catch-22, the theme that is portrayed is that it is impossible to live as a sane person in an insane world. Heller supports this theme with the use of situations that happen to the main character Yossarian, the mind-boggling regulation called Catch-22 and the enlisted men.
Set in a World War Two American bomber squadron in Pianosa, Italy, Catch-22 is the story of Captain John Yossarian. Joseph Heller uses various examples of Yossarian trying to remain sane even though the rest of the men have lost their minds. In his attempts to be sensible, Yossarian is seen as a madman among the rest of the men. An example of this is when Yossarian refused to wear his uniform and decided to walk around naked. While talking to Yossarian, Milo asks why he is not wearing his uniform
only to get the response of, “I don’t want to” (Heller 242). Many people think Yossarian has lost his mind but in reality, Yossarian is not satisfied with what the uniform stands for. Too many of his good friends have died and he no longer wanted any part of it. Furthermore, it is seen that because of the war, Yossarian suffers from an extreme case of paranoia. Heller narrates that, “Yossarian’s symptoms [were] an unreasonable belief that everybody around him was crazy…an unfounded suspicion that people hated him and were conspiring to kill him” (Heller 29). Yossarian believes that people are trying to kill him, which is an absolute fact seeing that every time he enters his plane, there are bullets flying towards him. Because of Yossarian’s belief, the men think that he is insane. His friend Clevinger insists that no one in particular is shooting at him, instead they are shooting at everyone. Puzzled, Yossarian simply replies, “And what difference does that make?” (Heller 29). Lastly, an example of Yossarian’s so called “insane” sanity, is illustrated when he decided to run away to Sweden instead of being a sellout and lie for Colonel Cathcart and Korn or risking his life by doing more missions. As Yossarian tries to justify why he decided to leave he says, “I’m not running away from my responsibilities, I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life” (Heller 414). Major Danby is convinced that Yossarian has lost his mind but it is only Yossarian and the Chaplin who can see the logic. Despite the tremendous odds against the success of Yossarian’s plan, Heller suggests that his actions are not crazy but a sane response to an insane situation over which Yossarian has no
control. By Yossarian being the only sane man, the other men in the squadron believe he is insane. Showing that Yossarian successfully portrays the theme that it is impossible to live as a sane person in an insane world. Because of this regulation, many men have died but for those who are still alive, they are rapidly turning towards insanity
The title of the novel is the name of the outrageous military regulation that determines Heller’s attitude towards sanity and insanity. Catch-22 is described in a number of different ways that can be applied to a number of different aspects. This illogical law has continuously given the men problems, for their sanity is continuously challenged because this rule makes no sense yet must be obeyed. An example of how the regulation is applied...