Joseph Hellers Catch 22

Book Report/Review
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Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 illustrates a satirical story about war and therefore, carries an underlying theme of death. Compared to typical war novels, Heller discounts bloody depictions of war but instead utilizes humor to emphasize his point. Furthermore, the author goes beyond the preconception that death is the final point of war.


The novel commences with the introduction of the soldier in white. His initial appearance however, is simply viewed as strange: "All they ever really saw of the soldier in white was a frayed black hole over his mouth" (Heller, 10). Despite of the fact that readers immediately learn that the soldier in white is but a minor character, he does play a significant role in the story. In this initial appearance, he is portrayed as rather egocentric but later having a major effect amongst all the others especially Yossarian. The soldier's condition leads to the question of the purpose of such a life. That same issue is raised later when Dr. Strubbs says, "I used to get a big kick out of saving people's lives. Now I wonder what the hell's the point, since they all have to die anyway" (109).
Like any soldier during war, Yossarian constantly struggles with the fragility of life obsessing over the possible ways he could die :"He wondered how often he would ever recognize the first chill, flush, twinge, ache, belch, sneeze, stain, lethargy, vocal slip, loss of balance or lapse of memory that would signal the inevitable beginning of the inevitable end" (173). ...
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