Book Analysis: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Topics: Catch-22, World War II, Yossarian Pages: 4 (1493 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Comical in style and language, the message that Catch-22 introduces to its reader is one of a grim world's decay. Heller's fictional story portrays absurd characters and situations, but the underlying theme of human decadence is clearly visible, especially in the last portion of the book. Heller's attitude towards his characters also gives way to an overwhelming tone of pity and sorrow for the world and its population. The overall theme of the novel depicts a decline in individuality, decay of human moral, and a certain loss of awareness of both surrounding events and personal action. The wartime atmosphere that surrounds the book and its characters has directly helped bring about all three evils. Much of the blame can be placed in the hands of particular characters, such as Milo, Aarfy, and Cathcart, who take advantage of the wartime hysteria for personal gain. The rest can be accounted as the evils of war and the squadron's compliance to the wrong doings. Catch-22 distinctly depicts a certain loss of individuality among the soldiers of Pianosa. Although the book starts with a variety of characters, who take part in different activities that enrich their community, it shows a pattern of slowly diminishing individuality among them. This trend become more apparent as the book progresses, and eventually fosters situations that can be characterized as simply farce. One such incident is clearly portrayed in SHITHEAD's parade strategies. As the book begins, SHITHEAD is introduced as a lover of parades and little else. At first strict, wanting all soldiers to march in perfect formation, he later wishes to string together all participants to create a perfect march. His ambitions are hilarious at first glance, but it is evident that human life holds little value in SHITHEAD's mind. He is only concerned with perfection and looks to the soldiers as mere robots with no individuality and of only one use, to participate in his parades. Seeing all soldiers as being the same,...
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