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The structure and meaning of catch 22

The missions are also part of the catch. The number of missions is mainly raised because Colonel Cathcart wants to outdo the other officers. He thinks to himself: Every time I get close he raises them. Nately, the only one who has flown enough missions, is sent on one more mission and gets killed 431.

  • The Chaplain, who is surrounded by men who do not believe in God, starts to get his own doubts;
  • Orr, the Chaplain, Nurse Duckett, Dunbar, Nately, McWatt and the many other characters all get their lifestory told in the chapters named for them;
  • Sometimes passages are simply confusing, such as the questions that the bombardiers ask in their educational training;
  • The comedy in the novel is achieved in different ways:

No one can escape the catch. It is in the title, the structure and the fate of the characters.

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This does not necessarily mean that the entire chapter is about that character because the narrator occasionally jumps to other scenes during the narration, but it does start with an introduction about that character and how Yossarian relates to them. Yossarian is the main character. The reader follows his life and gets an impression of the other characters by how they interact with Yossarian. All he wants to do is get through the war alive. He can go to the hospital whenever he wants because he has an inexplicable liver-condition: Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice.

Catch-22 ★★★ 1970 (R)

If it became jaundice they could treat it. But this just being short of jaundice all the time confused them. When Yossarian asks him why he is helping him, he says: Yossarian takes this advice and fakes an illness. When he does have to fly missions, he is more concerned with staying alive than with the target: Yossarian is not the only one who thinks that way: Doc Daneeka, the doctor at camp Pianosa, lets Yossarian write him down on the flight-crew list to pretend he is flying with them when he is not.

Doc Daneeka jerked his head up quickly with a resentful distrust. You probably resent the fact that you are at war and might get your head blown off any second. I am absolutely incensed. But there are more serious passages as well, where Yossarian thinks about death: They were surely more than a million already. What insects had eaten their flesh?

In the end, no matter how often the other characters claim Yossarian is crazy, he seems to be the only sane character in the novel. Another character who needs mentioning is Milo Minderbinder. He does not care who profits from his deals as long as he profits most.

He uses German planes to deliver the food he bought behind enemy lines and when the officers want to arrest the pilots and confiscate the planes, he is enraged: Shame on you for ever thinking such a horrible thought! The structure and meaning of catch 22 fee for attacking the bridge for America was the total cost of the operation plus six per cent and his fee from Germany for defending the bridge was the same cost-plus-six agreement augmented by a merit bonus of a thousand dollars for every American plane he shot down.

This is what gets Nately killed. Milo goes too far in his pursuit of profit, and is damaging his own crew. Orr, the Chaplain, Nurse Duckett, Dunbar, Nately, McWatt and the many other characters all get their lifestory told in the chapters named for them. The comedy in the novel is achieved in different ways: Many of the occurrences or statements seem irrational. They are the deliberate opposite of reality, which makes them seem like a caricature: Colonel Cargill was so awful a marketing executive that his services were much sought after by firms eager to establish losses for tax purposes.

He had to start at the top to work the structure and meaning of catch 22 way down, and with sympathetic friends in Washington, losing money was no simple matter. It took months of hard work and careful misplanning 31.

  • Milo goes too far in his pursuit of profit, and is damaging his own crew;
  • What insects had eaten their flesh?

Although the situation in this example is slightly absurd, Heller is using it to comment on real life, where losses and financial gifts can be used for tax reduction purposes. Sometimes passages are simply confusing, such as the questions that the bombardiers ask in their educational training: Yossarian does not want to get out of the hospital, which leads to this conversation: Major Danby says he would never lie and immediately admits he would lie sometimes: DocDaneeka was happy with the war: All of these instances are paradoxical and slightly absurd.

But underneath this absurdity, there are a few very sharp comments on society. An important and recurring factor is the parody on bureaucracy.

Heller’s Catch 22

The army believes their paperwork over their men. When the paperwork says Doc Daneeka is dead, he is dead, even if he is alive and well and trying to tell them he is not dead 392. He was not registered, therefore he does not exist. Mainly, this is because the officers are afraid to go into battle themselves. With all his raising of missions and talk of heroism, it turns out that Colonel Cathcart has only flown four missions himself. The examples are so exaggerated that they have become unrealistic and absurd, but the reader cannot help but see certain similarities with modern society.

There is a certain comedy in the names of some of the characters as well. One can hardly take these characters seriously. The comical elements in Catch-22 try to make the horrors of the war bearable as well as more intense to the reader, while at the same time creating a distance which allows the reader to draw parallels with modern society.

Yossarian believes that God has forsaken the world: He took the training in the hope that the war would be over by the time he finished: It seemed inconceivable that the war could last that long, for God was on his side, he had been told, and God, he had also been told, could do whatever he wanted to do.

But the war was not nearly over, and his training was almost complete. Yossarian had shrieked soundlessly as he felt them all falling. This experience frightens him so much that when Nately had reached the required number of missions, Yossarian prays Nately will not volunteer to fly more, because that would mean he would have to fly more as well: In his more cynical moments, Yossarian refuses to believe in God, but when he is really frightened he still hopes there is something out there that will save him.

The Chaplain, who is surrounded by men who do not believe in God, starts to get his own doubts: How could he be sure? Colonel Cathcart thinks that religion is just another way of becoming popular.

He asks the Chaplain if he could say some prayers before each mission, because this might get his picture in the papers: If the prayers work for him, they should work for us.

Religion is even ridiculed by the way the officers want to use it for their own gain. None of the men are miraculously saved — by God, that is. Orr, who is said to have died in a planecrash, turns out to have escaped to Sweden.

The Chaplain sees this as a confirmation of his faith: I believe in God again. Das war unser einziger Kontakt. We could not hear the moaning and the cries and the crying. That [the lights] were the only contact we had. Death, to us, was odorless, soundless, we could not experience it. Had we been there, had we been forced to see it, we could not have done it.

The way we burnt children and women, we could not have done that. Even the water was on fire. It was something I had never seen before […] and never wished too. Both pilots try to explain how the experience was something they had no words for. Curiously enough, this is when the US airmen themselves are being bombed.

Yossarian walks through the streets and sees a sick little child, a woman carrying a baby, a dog and a the structure and meaning of catch 22 being beaten. Everywhere he looks there is death, decay and torture. They are too comical, too absurd. They are caricatures, which makes Catch-22 a satire. One theme of Catch-22 is that the whole idea of war is absurd when profit becomes more important than patriotism and peace.

The most important message, however, is the futility of war: Men went mad and were rewarded with medals. All over the world, boys on either side of the bomb line were laying down their lives for what they had been told was their country, and no one seemed to mind, least of all the boys who were laying down their young lives. Now I wonder what the hell is the point, since they all have to die anyway. All great countries were destroyed. How much longer do you really think your country will last?

The frog is almost five hundred million years old. Could you really say with much certainty that America, with all its strength and prosperity, with its fighting man that is second to none, and with his standards of living that is the highest in the world, will last as long as…the frog? I was fanatically pro-German when the Germans were here to protect us against the Americans, and now that the Americans are here to protect us from the Germans The structure and meaning of catch 22 am fanatically pro-American.