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A Timeless American Classic: Catch-22

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A Timeless American Classic: Catch-22

Katie Gauquie, Contributor

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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller explores the experiences of Captain John Yossarian while living off the island of Pianosa, a base for Allied Air support, off the coast of Italy during World War II. The book revolves around Yossarian’s interactions with fellow soldiers, his relationship with his superiors, and the repeating idea that Yossarian and the other soldiers possess no control over their life. Throughout the entire story and events, Yossarian’s character develops from acting in a selfish manner to beginning to care fellow troops.

Heller models the main character after himself because Heller also served as a B-25 Bombardier during World War II and flew over 60 missions for the Allied Forces throughout North Africa and Italy. With the publication of Catch-22, Heller describes and coins the term “catch-22” because during his time in the military he feels this inescapable cycle of a lack of control on life. Even though Heller’s book focuses on the negative aspects of war, Heller also experienced the positive effects of joining the military during war, such as friendship.

In conjunction with focusing on the phenomena of Catch-22, Heller also stresses the way that military bureaucrats take advantage of the military grunts to better their own images and further their power through taking away the power of the soldiers with no high military title. Heller also highlights the direct relationship between the cycle of catch-22 and the powers of bureaucracy through the interactions between the different soldiers on Pianosa.

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A Timeless American Classic: Catch-22