Black Humor in Catch-22

Topics: Catch-22, Comedy, Joseph Heller Pages: 4 (1479 words) Published: March 16, 2013
Black Humor in Catch-22

Joseph Heller uses black humor to express normally emotional scenarios in humorous ways in his writing. One of the clearest examples of Joseph Heller using black humor is in his novel, Catch-22. The story follows Yossarian, a man enlisted in the United States Air Force during World War II, and his frightening experiences while in service. Yossarian witnesses many scenes throughout the story which most people would find extremely emotional or graphic during the war (or even today), but Joseph Heller manages to make these scenes humorous so that people could temporarily forget about the seriousness of the situation and that some of the scenes were things that were actually happening during World War II.

One of the many parts in Catch-22 where black humor is used is early in the novel when the soldier in white is described in the hospital. The unnamed “soldier in white” is presumably unable to move or speak because of a major injury that he had gotten while serving in the war. It is described that there are tubes going through his elbows that are connect to jars that would feed him waste from his own body. One jar would take waste out of his body and the other was directed back into his body through his elbow and the jars were switched when the waste jar was full and the doctors repeated this continuously. The fact that he was being fed through his elbow was quite strange and could be humorous in some ways but of course this is extremely sad when given a second thought which shows how this could be black humor. Heller most likely exaggerated a bit with this part but it was to explain to the reader that there were many patients from the war who were neglected by nurses and doctors.

A minor character in the story, Captain Flume, becomes paranoid that Chief Halfoat is going to slit his throat while he is sleeping. As a result of this paranoid thought, Captain Flume escapes to the forest and refuses to return until Chief...
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