After some time, writing letters too get monotonous and boring, and he writes to everybody "that he was going on a very dangerous mission. 'They asked for volunteers. It's very dangerous, but someone has to do it. I'll write you the instant I get back.' And he had not written anyone since."(Heller8) Yossarian is a navigator in the Air Force , and after flying combat missions in the war, he has become disillusioned about the war He does not want to take part in the war, but he cannot escape even by claiming insanity. He is trying to find novel ways of proving his insanity. The atmosphere in the hospital is tedious and despondent which even the censoring of other people's letters does not lighten.
Heller alludes to the American writer, Washington Irving.,the author of" Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle". The allusion is based on the fact that Washington Irving used the pen name Knickerbocker to poke fun at the early Dutch settlers of Manhattan .Here, Yossarian pokes fun at the Powers -that-be. The allusion is also on Rip Van Winkle, the central character of the story by Irving, in which Rip Van Winkle slept through the whole of the American War of Independence. Here, Yosserian is trying to 'sleep through' the whole war by being found insane..
The tone of the passage is playful, bordering on the humorous...
Irony is brought out in the passage when he says "Censoring the envelops had serious repercussions, produced a ripple of anxiety on some ethereal military echelon"(Heller 8). He means that censoring some innocuous envelopes is viewed with great concern by the Powers-that -be than the lives of the people.
The symbolism of the censoring of the letters to the senselessness of war is noteworthy. "Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective" (Heller 9) This shows how meaningless war is. Later, he censored everything but a, an and the in a letter, which "erected more dynamic intralinear tensions".(Heller 9 ) The censoring of letters symbolizes the destruction caused by the war. He writes how entire streets, and entire cities are annihilated by war. "..He began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks of his wrists as though he were God." (Heller 9 ) The allusion to God here shows the megalomania of the Powers who wage the war.
The Ballad of the Sad Caf- an Analysis
Carson McCullers has succeeded in arousing the reader's curiosity by his deft use of evocative imagery and the sense of mystery he brings in, in "The Ballad of the Sad Caf". The displacement of time in the narrative adds to the mystery.
Set in a remote town unfrequented by visitors, the town is "Dreary", "far off" and "lonesome".(McCullers 3). The remoteness and the inaccessibility of the town is emphasized by the distance of the nearest train stop at Society City and the