War In Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut And Catch 22 By Joseph Heller

1382 words - 6 pages

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller both have a striking resemblance in the themes of anti-war and of free will. Both don’t come into full force right in the beginning but eventually become more evident. Both novels focus on one character throughout the entire novel, and each protagonist is affected by all the events around them. It changes their perspective and how they view life as a whole. Both Billy in Slaughterhouse Five and Yossarian in Catch -22, dislike war and are known as anti-war heroes. They also believe in the idea that they have free will and that their actions can be controlled. What makes these two novels so different from other war novels is that both protagonists don’t die for their country, they live through the end to see the world around them change.
The idea of free will is savored by everyone. Throughout both novels, each protagonist reaches a certain point in which they have to make a decision. Instead of waiting for that decision to happen, the event happens nevertheless (QUOTE EXAMPLE). In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut proclaims that there is no such thing as a free will and that what will happen cannot be changed. The protagonist Billy Pilgrim was told by Tralfamadorians that they see time chronologically and that nothing can change or be changed. No matter what we chose to do, all the choices we make, are made unconsciously. Similarly in Catch-22, the theory is the same but it’s presented in a different manner. Catch-22 is a paradox, with no clear outcome. No matter what one says or does, escaping is not an option thus there is no free will. The catch is very well described when Yossarian states, “You don’t have to fly anymore missions if you’re crazy, but you have to ask first and if you ask then you’re not crazy because anyone that wants to get out of combat is not crazy”(Heller 46). This simple yet extremely effective catch is mind-blowing to Yossarian simply because he knows that he doesn’t have the power to change it; no one does. In both instances, the characters of both novels are tormented by the fact that they have no power to change anything. The overall theme of free will is displayed well in both novels and becomes the basis of the book. Billy Pilgrim does not care about what the world says; he knows that everything in life is predestined and that he has no say in what goes on. In Yossarian’s case, he has to continue to fly more missions due to Catch-22. This affects the character affects the cha
racter both mentally and physically and changes their perspective on life.
Both Billy Pilgrim and Yossarian share one main characteristic: they are both anti-war heroes. Yossarian has no intention what so ever to lay down his life for his country, and Billy Pilgrim doesn’t protest or act against his capturers when he was stuck behind enemy lines. They both do not want anything to do with the war; Yossarian is ok with bombing against the enemy while Billy could care less about...

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