7 December 2012
Catch-22 is a trite term used commonly in our vernacular to describe situations or rules that are based on circular or illogical reasoning. However, the origin of this popular phrase is perhaps more peculiar than the phrase itself. In 1961 Joseph Heller, an American satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright, published his most famous work: Catch-22. Catch-22 follows Yossarian, an Air force fighter pilot stationed on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea west of Italy, and other members of his squadron during World War II. In Catch-22, the satirical war novel by Joseph Heller, Yossarian, the protagonist, is victim of a corrupt bureaucratic system, in which he has no way out; however, he himself possesses the same traits that are so frustrating and inherent in the system, namely the ideal of self-preservation and sustenance.. Bureaucratic corruption is a staple feature of injustice that is very prevalent in the novel and is also what motivates Yossarian to express some odd behavior. For example, in the words of Yosarrian’s commanding officers, "You know, that might be the answer - to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That's a trick that never seems to fail" (Heller 149). Instead of admitting guilt and possibly being reprimanded slightly, the bureaucracy decides to give Yossarian an award and celebrate his “achievement,” when in actuality he does something wrong, and on purpose. The officers consider only the future of their personal careers, and not what is morally sound. Alternatively, when looking at the novel as a whole, one can see that “The novel’s absurdities—comic and otherwise—operate almost always to expose the alarming inhumanities which pollute our political, social, and economic systems” (Bloom 273). Heller masterfully uses satire in the novel, pointing out flaws and discrepancies in the bureaucratic system. Satire is often the best way to...
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