Catch-22

Subjugation under Supposed Freedom in Catch-22 12th Grade

In the midst of World War II, apprehensive soldier and antiheroic bombardier John Yossarian endures the perpetual torment of war with a tenacious desire to escape. Witnessing a number of horrendous events and ceaseless bureaucratic absurdity, Yossarian and his companions struggle against the surreal parameters that define life in constant battle, and attempt to understand the senseless paradoxes that often hinder their strongest desires. Throughout his novel Catch-22, Joseph Heller depicts Yossarian’s plight to free himself from the tenacious grip of his superiors, proving that in the illusory face of freedom, there is often no escape from the forces of oppression.

As a prominent theme in the novel, high-ranking officials often reference the mental state of their subordinates as means of provoking confusion and restraining their actions. During an early invocation of the novel’s name bearing term, catch-22 is utilized to explain the paradox in which Orr did not have to fly missions because “he was crazy”, yet if he chose not to fly missions he would be deemed “sane and had to” (Heller 46). This “slippery but elegant” logic demonstrates a way in which the military employs the mental state of its subordinates in order to make...

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