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The sarcastic attitude of this novel is conspicuous, and all bonds with reality are dropped with the first character introductions. The humor that has previously been criticized I found to be easy to understand, not monotonous, and a unique aspect to illustrate WW2. This is not to say the humor is for all, because Heller uses many paradoxes (look up definition of "catch-22"), simple one line contradictions, and subtle word choices to draw a laugh-all which represent the personality of the novel.
Yes, there are many characters, probably over fifty, yet grasping the names is not important at all times. Of course you quickly get associated with Yossarian and the other main characters, and chapter do reintroduce people from the early parts of the book. This may be annoying, yet each character is distinct, and there is little chance of confusing Milo, and entrepeneur, with Havermeyer, the elite pilot. In truth, the novel lacks a linear time, but chooses, rather, to define the novel through numerous character sketches, focusing them loosely around Yossarian. By the later chapters of the novel, Heller subtly introduces the gruesome truths of the war, balancing the early humor with more realistic look. It is through this transition that the weight of the situation is elucidated, and by contrasting the final chapters with the first, Heller is able to attract our attention and force us to analyze the war.
What is the novel about? There is no simple answer, yet if I attempt to state it in a single sentence Catch-22's theme, it would be "The only true fault of America's once the war began, was that we as a nation began to glorify war, without truly understanding the implications of our actions."
What is the idea behind catch-22 as a statement? Read the book. Enjoy. Open your eyes with laughter and tears. Perhaps you won't like the satirical tone, but I would suggest to all that you try.
When I was in high school, my English teacher introduced me to the absurdity of war. We were assigned to read "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by the great war poet Wilfred Owen. This poem refuted the "old lie", Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country. After reading this poem, I suddenly realized how wasteful and utterly senseless war is, especially for the unfortunate people who must put their life on the line.
One day, I was in a second-hand bookstore, and by chance spotted a copy of "Catch-22." I had no idea what the book was about, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. This book, like Owen's poem, describes how frightening and pointless war is to the soldier. However, while Owen uses gory details to bring forth his ideas, Heller uses satire.
This book captures the personal fears and opinions of the troubled bombadier, Yossarian. He does not know why he has to be there, and he certainly does not want to die.
Yossarian stated that he didn't care if this opinion made the enemy happy. He said that the enemy is anybody who wants to kill you, and it was his superior who kept sending him out to get killed...This makes me wonder about the millions of soldiers throughout time, for this thought must have passed through some of their minds at some desperate point. The old men who instigate and plan wars are not the ones who will die. Rather, they send people out to die for *their* cause.
As you can see, this book really made me think. Yes, I thought, I laughed till I cried, then I cried for the senselessness of it all. Heller is a genius!