Catch-22: the Inherent Abuse of Power Through Milo Minderbinder

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Catch-22: The Inherent Abuse of Power Through Milo Minderbinder
Two major themes of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller are the absurdity of war and the abuse of power. These two themes depend on one another in order to coexist. It is through the power exhibited by senior officers and command staff that the absurdities take place. In this novel, the main character, Yossarian, is a bombardier in a squadron in Pianosa, Italy. He is surrounded by absurdity and power abuse, most notably from Catch-22. Catch-22 is a provision which states that in order for a soldier to be grounded, he must be insane, but in declaring himself insane, he is showing that he is sane and must therefore continue to fly. Yossarian wishes to be grounded because he is so concerned about living, but finds power abuse to prevent him from ending his tour of duty at each step along the way. The absurdities and abuse of power in Catch-22 are very well depicted in the actions and character of Milo Minderbinder and the impact those actions have on Yossarian and the others in his group.

Milo Minderbinder is a twenty-seven year old lieutenant, who in his second week becomes the mess officer after approaching Major—de Coverely with a fresh hard boiled egg. Major—de Coverely puts a plane from the squadron at Milo's disposal and says: You're a good mess officer, Milo.

I'm not the mess officer, sir.
You're a good mess officer, Milo.
Thank you, sir. I'll do everything in my power to be a good mess officer (145).

From that short conversation, Milo is promoted to mess officer and his abuse of power begins.
When he first begins his duties, Milo has only one plane at his disposal, but after the other squadrons in Colonel Cathcart's group get wind of the fresh eggs at Milo's mess hall, Milo starts to gain more planes. On page 145, Heller writes, "Then the other three squadrons in Colonel Cathcart's group turned their mess halls over to Milo and gave him an airplane and a pilot each so that he could...
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