Explain why Heller’s novel was able to become so popular during a period of optimism and idealism.
It is out of pure irony that Catch 22 was written in the time period of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. This time period of hope and patriotism did not call for a novel of such depressing, hopeless soldiers. The country was experiencing feelings of superiority and greatness, yet the novel portrays characters that run away and hid from enemies. One may wonder how this novel became such an inspiration when it’s themes and motifs were so off line for its time. Heller’s novel was able to become so popular because readers use the characters as a comparison of how patriotism should be, and the attitudes of the soldiers during World War II illustrates how idealism needs to change.
The attitudes of characters in Catch 22 are far from our normal perception of patriotic. For example, the main character, Yossarian fakes injuries in order to stay the in hospital, because he does not want to risk his life in battle. He complains saying things such as “I think it’s my appendix bothering me” (Heller 176) and “ then I’ll just go back to the hospital” when he is soon to encounter another battle. Yossarian is so unpatriotic that he even “ goes absent without official leave from Milo” (Heller 405). Many characters in Heller’s novel simply have no motivation to serve and protect their country. One soldier states, “ there’s no patriotism, that’s what it is. And no matriotism, either” (Heller 123). Compared to the time period in which the novel was written, this mind set is unacceptable. Yossarian has such a negative attitude, it is even stated “morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian’s fault ”(Heller 396).
However, there are characters in the story that are used as comparison to Yossarian, and show the level of morality people would have expected during the time period in which the novel was published. Appleby is one of these soldiers, who seems to be the perfect soldier....
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