Catch-22

A Story about a Yo-Yo: How Catch-22 comes full circle without being circular

It seems fitting that Yossarian's nickname in Catch-22 is "Yo-Yo." A yo-yo is a perfect metaphor for the recurring images of circularity and linearity that characterizes the chaotic world of Joseph Heller's novel. On one hand, a yo-yo follows the straight-line, linear path of its string, but on the other hand, a yo-yo bobs up and down continuously and always finds its way back to the palm, exactly where it began. Yossarian's moral development in Catch-22 is one of the many circularly linear (or linearly circular) themes in the novel, but unlike the rest, it ultimately succeeds in breaking out of the hopeless circularity of Heller's world. Heller sets up a series of binary and corresponding moral dilemmas that Yossarian must face, and through parallel comparison allows his protagonist to finally come to a moral awakening.

Many of Yossarian's experiences in Catch-22 occur in twos. Trying to convince the doctors that he is indeed insane, Yossarian proclaims, "I see everything twice" (190). Yossarian does indeed see many things twice, and throughout the novel comes to similar moral impasses twice before making the "right" decision. Though the novel is not written chronologically, it...

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