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Essay On Social Commentary In Catch 22

2257 words - 9 pages

Social Commentary in Catch-22

    Life is filled with situations that are very difficult to find an escape. Even once in a while, life presents a situation that is beyond difficult, and completely impossible to escape from. These situations were expanded upon and brought to obvious light in Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22. This novel was such a masterful work that the phrase, catch-22 came to be synonymous with the situations that Heller portrays in his novel. Set in the final months of World War II, Catch-22 tells the story of a bomber squadron on the mythical island of Pinosa, just off of Italy. The story is told through the eyes of Captain John Yossarian, one of the few sane men in the novel, who sees all of the impossible situations his squadron is placed in. "For Catch-22 is the unwritten loophole in every written law which empowers the authorities to revoke your rights whenever it suits their cruel whims; it is, in short, the principle of absolute evil in a malevolent, mechanical, and incompetent world. Because of Catch-22, justice is mocked, the innocent are victimized, and Yossarian's squadron is forced to fly more than double the number of missions prescribed by Air Force code" (Skreiner 1). The mops vivid examples of the paradoxes created by catch-22 come from the specific characters; Hungry Joe, Doc Daneeka, Orr, Milo Minderbinder, and Yossarian.


Probably the most peculiar paradox presented in Catch-22 is formed around a pilot named Hungry Joe. Following a common, logical train of thought, Hungry Joe wishes to finish his time in the war and return home, where his safety is guaranteed, and he is in no danger of being killed. The catch originates from a common junction of many of the catches characters face, Colonel Cathcart, the wing commander. Colonel Cathcart's goal is to be mentioned in The Saturday Evening Post, and to do that, he continues to raise the required missions to fly for his wing. Holding characters in the war, and not allowing them to return home. Hungry Joe always completes his required missions, packs his bags, and waits for the orders transferring him home, hoping they arrive before Colonel Cathcart raises the missions again. The waiting builds up such huge pressure for Hungry Joe that he drives himself mad, screaming all night long in nightmares. The catch is simple, Hungry Joe wants to go home so much that he can't stand to wait for the orders sending him home to the US. The waiting and wanting is so strong that he stays on fight duty all the time to avoid the pain of it. Hungry Joe flies because he wants to go home, and is completely trapped in his catch-22, until he is killed during the missions that were both his torture and his comfort (Heller 60).


Other characters are forced into their catches by personal quirks, or fears. Doc Daneeka is a flight surgeon who hates to fly so much that he will not enter a plane, and instead bribes a pilot, McWatt, into entering his name on the flight...

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