The Portrayal of Capitalism and Free Enterprise in Catch-22

Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22 not only in order to make a statement about the absurdity of war, but also to illustrate the absurdity of the human condition itself. Through its style, language, and characters, Catch-22 vividly depicts the absurdity of life using World War II as its medium. One of Heller's most significant parodies is that of capitalism and free enterprise, which he embodies in the character of Milo Minderbinder.

The reader is first introduced to Milo in chapter 2 of the novel, where he is described as the most incredible mess officer ever, providing a luxurious dining experience complete with Italian waiters, tablecloths, and a lunch consisting of shish-kabob and asparagus tips followed by cherries jubilee, coffee, Benedictine, and brandy. Milo is mentioned again briefly in chapter 3 during the Great Big Siege of Bologna, when it is said that he had bombed the squadron. Already the reader has a taste for the absurdity to come with this character, such as, "Why did Milo bomb his own soldiers?"

It is in chapter 7 where the reader gets a first glimpse at the madness behind Milo. Milo admires Yossarian for a letter Yossarian persuaded Doc Daneeka to give him. It says that Yossarian can have all of the...

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