Subjugation under Supposed Freedom in Catch-22

In the midst of World War II, apprehensive soldier and antiheroic bombardier John Yossarian endures the perpetual torment of war with a tenacious desire to escape. Witnessing a number of horrendous events and ceaseless bureaucratic absurdity, Yossarian and his companions struggle against the surreal parameters that define life in constant battle, and attempt to understand the senseless paradoxes that often hinder their strongest desires. Throughout his novel Catch-22, Joseph Heller depicts Yossarian’s plight to free himself from the tenacious grip of his superiors, proving that in the illusory face of freedom, there is often no escape from the forces of oppression.

As a prominent theme in the novel, high-ranking officials often reference the mental state of their subordinates as means of provoking confusion and restraining their actions. During an early invocation of the novel’s name bearing term, catch-22 is utilized to explain the paradox in which Orr did not have to fly missions because “he was crazy”, yet if he chose not to fly missions he would be deemed “sane and had to” (Heller 46). This “slippery but elegant” logic demonstrates a way in which the military employs the mental state of its subordinates in order to make them perform various actions, causing them to become trapped into doing so by their own state of mind (Swift 2011). Later in the novel, Yossarian attempts to cite his insanity as means of leaving the war, to which Doc Daneeka replies, “‘who else will go [to be killed]?’” (Heller 305). Although the military had previously emphasized the idea that a poor mental state is grounds for leaving the war, Doc Daneeka highlights that this idea is not truly enforced, but rather stated as means to control the men and hide the fact that escape is impossible, regardless of one’s mental well-being. Moreover, Yossarian’s mental state is utilized in order to discredit his logical fear of being killed. When explaining that “strangers he didn’t know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up in the air to drop bombs on them”, Yossarian is deemed crazy by Clevinger (Heller 17). Despite the fact that both men are being subjected to the same dangerous conditions, Yossarian’s perspective is frowned upon as it encourages desire to escape the war and its potentially deadly implications. The military’s tendency to call upon the mental state of its subordinates places the men in a state of vulnerability, and leaves them receptive to control by others.

Additionally, in the novel, the catch-22 enigma reaches beyond the United States military and is utilized by other demographics across the planet, emphasizing that the theme of hidden oppression is not specific to the U.S., but rather spans the entire world. Upon pondering the reason for which Nately’s whore blamed Yossarian for Nately’s death, Yossarian comes to the paradoxical conclusion that “every victim was a culprit, [and] every culprit a victim” (Heller 405). This phrase, applying to the tragic nature of the world, emphasizes that both those helpless and culpable to the cycle of misfortune suffer from and it and contribute to it, leaving everyone, despite their supposed freedom, victim to an oppressive system. Likewise, catch-22 emerges as a prevalent concept in Italy when the term is spoken by Yossarian’s lover, Luciana. She attests that she “won’t marry [Yossarian] because [he’s] crazy, and… [he’s] crazy because [he] won’t marry [her]” (Heller 159). Although presented in terms of love rather than war, this catch-22 demonstrates the entrapment that the idea brings to people across the globe in its confining yet inarguable logic. Similarly, Yossarian’s fear of the enemy reiterates that catch-22 is a universal idea. The “ubiquitous, altogether scary ‘they’” from which Yossarian derives his fear emphasizes that the menacing forces he cowers from are not specific to the United States military or its enemies, but rather he fears the inability to escape the omnipresence of catch-22 and the entrapment that it brings (Pinsker 2000). Paradoxes such as the catch-22, being globally prevalent, exemplify the inescapability that occurs within seemingly just logic that exist on an international level.

Through his humorous tone, Heller emphasizes the ridiculousness of catch-22, showing that despite its absurdity, it is effectively keeping people from escaping its grasp without their full understanding. When the chaplain is accused of writing in “somebody else’s” handwriting rather than his own, a concept that is both impossible and comedic, he is charged as guilty on all counts (Heller 381). Although not exactly living up to the standard of a catch-22, this “argument of faulty logic” exemplifies the manner in which a laughable idea becomes means of control (Hidalgo Downing 2000). Likewise, Colonel Cathcart perpetually raises the required number of missions the men must complete before being relieved of duty because he desires to be mentioned in the “Saturday Evening Post” ( Heller 282). Cathcart’s reason for creating this catch-22, it qualifies as such because the men are shown an escape before it is proven faulty, is for frivolous and humorous reason, thus emphasizing that although the logic may be absurd, catch-22 effectively keeps its victims under its control. By incorporating a comedic element, Heller exemplifies the ludicrous nature of catch-22, and demonstrates how it is effective regardless.

In Catch-22, Joseph Heller redefines common perceptions of war. Through his usage of both humor and tragedy, he emphasizes the central idea that sanity is insanity, and instills within the reader the true nature of war, and the place of the perpetually competing ideas of freedom and oppression. Heller emphasizes that although eventual escape from a controlling force may seem apparent, it may simply be impenetrable and inescapable contradiction in disguise.

Comparison of Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove

As Daniel R. White writes in Nietzsche at the Altar: Situating the Devotee, “To laugh at the literal behavior of other characters in the social drama, is to change the truth value of what those characters do so as to undermine its seriousness, its claim to veracity, to authority, and so to call it into question.” According to White, once we are able to laugh at something, we disarm it and become free to question its authority and reject it. The effect of laughter White describes is the effect Joseph Heller and Stanley Kubrick intend to evoke in their respective satires, Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove. The context of war in each of these works has caused many critics to classify it in the war genre. This classification, however, is mistaken because the worlds Heller and Kubrick depict are not horrific on account of war, but rather because individuals are subjected to the arbitrary authority of an impersonal and omnipotent bureaucracy that neither understands nor cares about them. In Catch-22, Heller portrays the bureaucracy through the eyes of his protagonist, Yossarian, who realizes that the control the bureaucracy, represented by his ambitious and impersonal superior officers, exercises over his life is arbitrary. In Dr. Strangelove, the bureaucracy is represented by General Ripper, who orders a massive nuclear strike that, if successful, will set off the Soviet Doomsday Device and create a nuclear holocaust, and General Turgidson, who urges President Muffley to commit fully to nuclear war. The individual struggling against the bureaucracy is Mandrake, who challenges Ripper’s authority and works to avert the impending nuclear disaster. That bureaucracy is the subject of examination and criticism in each novel is further evidenced in an evaluation of the satirical techniques employed. Through their depiction of a bureaucratic system in which individuals are completely subject to the arbitrary authority of their detached superiors and their satirical techniques, Kubrick and Heller induce individuals to recognize the horror and to laugh at the absurdities, not of war, but of the bureaucratic system they are seeking to “call into question.”While many critics have categorized Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove as war genre works, this categorization is fundamentally flawed because neither work contains the salient attributes of works that fit this classification. In War and the Novelist: Appraising the American War Novel, Peter G. Jones observes, “Collectively the [war genre] books emphasize individual reconciliation to the ordeal of combat and adjustment to the general pressures of war, recording immediate responses and varieties of accommodation” (Jones 4). Based on this definition, derived from analyses of the most widely recognized war genre works, the thematic similarity is their focus on the psychological effects of combat on the individual and the means through which the individual copes with that stress. The absence of vivid descriptions of combat indicates that neither Catch-22 nor Dr. Strangelove is about “individual reconciliation to the ordeal of combat.” Instead, both Heller and Kubrick focus on portraying the characters who comprise the bureaucracy. As Heller himself said, “‘I wasn’t interested in the war in Catch-22. I was interested in the personal relationships in bureaucratic authority’” (Merill 16). Thus, the horror of the worlds depicted by Kubrick and Heller arises not from war but from the fact that individuals are completely subjected to the arbitrary authority of an impersonal, omnipotent, and inaccessibly bureaucracy. In Dr. Strangelove, individuals are subjected to the authority of impersonal and arbitrary bureaucrats whose insulation from the realities of war renders them incapable of comprehending the implications of their actions. In Dr. Strangelove, General Ripper and General Turgidson are able to advocate nuclear war because of their detachment from the war. General Turgidson’s reliance on the Big Board, a computerized screen in the war room, to gauge progress emphasizes his insulation from the emotional realities of war. As Randy Rasmussen notes, “General Turgidson’s beloved Big Board is a glorified movie screen that provides him with a simplified, abstract, and manageable impression of nuclear war quite different from the messy realities we encounter outside its borders” (Rasmussen 3). For Turgidson, war is nothing more than a game and the soldiers are not human lives, but numbers. Turgidson’s failure to grasp the realities of war becomes evident when he and the other advisers rejoice after the Big Board shows the bombers responding to the recall code. In fact, the rejoicing is premature because the Big Board does not reflect the reality experienced by Major Kong and his crew aboard a slightly damaged, but still airborne B-52 bomber that has not received the recall code. Turgidson’s detachment from the realities of war allow him to advocate total commitment, “‘I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops – depending on the breaks’” (Maland 708). Turgidson is willing to sacrifice a few million people because he has no personal connection to them and is incapable of envisioning them as humans. This incident allows Kubrick to successfully show the inherent problem with bureaucracy, which is that because its members are detached and lack a personal connection to the individuals whose lives they affect, they cannot conceive of the implications of their advocacies. Like Turgidson, General Ripper advocates nuclear war because he is insulated from the realities of war. Throughout Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick uses a variety of camera techniques to emphasize that General Ripper is a typical bureaucrat who controls affairs and individuals from a distance. Prior to introducing Ripper for the first time, Kubrick films Captain Mandrake working hard in a bustling room with other people. Kubrick then cuts to Ripper, who is framed sitting alone behind a desk. The series of cuts between Ripper and Mandrake that follow serve to contrast Mandrake, who experiences the war somewhat directly, and Ripper, who is distant and insulated. In shutting the blinds on his office window, Ripper symbolically severs his last connection to the outside world. As Rasmussen notes, “shielded from…the ordeal of his troops by the blinded windows, he is able to sustain his illusion of a justified nuclear war” (Rasmussen 25, 26). While the troops experience the war on a personal level because they are the ones who are engaged in combat and risking their lives, Ripper experiences the war from behind his desk. Ripper is not personally affected by the war, and thus, cannot comprehend the “ordeal of his troops.” It is Ripper’s lack of understanding of the effects of his actions and detachment that permit him to order, support and justify the nuclear strike.The predicament in Dr. Strangelove, then, is not the war itself, but rather the bureaucratic system that allows detached, impersonal individuals to wield absolute authority over the lives of their subordinates to whom they cannot relate. The extent of Ripper’s authority over Burpleson Airforce base personnel becomes evident when Ripper confiscates all privately owned radios. By confiscating the radios, Ripper severs their connection to the outside world and the chain of command above him. Kubrick thus sets up a microcosm of bureaucratic society in which individuals report only to their direct superiors and are denied access to the chain of command above their superiors. Because Ripper’s power is unchecked, he is able to control and shape the perceptions of his subordinates. As Rasmussen notes, “From inside his ivory tower, General Ripper imposes his fictional view of the outside world on all base personnel through the mechanism of an intercom. His voice rings godlike through Burpleson while subordinates execute his orders” (Rasmussen 14). Ripper announces that the Soviets have launched a nuclear attack that has crippled Washington and orders the Burpleson security troops to seal off the base. Ripper’s control is so encompassing that even when the troops see that the advancing army is wearing American uniforms, the security troops accept Ripper’s word as truth and determine that the uniforms must be stolen. The harm of bureaucracy is evident as the Burpleson security troops are forced to suppress their own thoughts and senses to obey the order of their superior officer. Thus, Kubrick shows how the bureaucratic system causes individuals to lose control of their own lives and become subjected to the whims of their detached superiors. The harmful effects of the hierarchical structure of bureaucracy and the extent to which individuals are rendered powerless is further evident in the experiences of Mandrake. Mandrake discovers that Ripper has exceeded his authority, but he is powerless to do anything because it is unacceptable for a subordinate to challenge a superior. Even when Ripper admits to Mandrake that the Soviets have not attacked, Mandrake must “maintain a formal appearance of respect for the General” (Rasmussen 16). Kubrick depicts the power imbalance in the relationship by filming Ripper with an extreme low angle close-up that makes him appear larger and more powerful. Mandrake’s powerlessness becomes evident as Ripper uncovers his pistol, thereby asserting his power and authority to restore the hierarchical order. Even when Ripper has committed suicide and Mandrake has deciphered the recall code, Mandrake cannot avert the disaster because he encounters Colonel “Bat” Guano of the U.S. Army. When Mandrake explains the situation to him, Guano “finds it…inconceivable that an individual…of such modest military rank has any business talking to the highest government authority” (39). In the bureaucratic system, of which Guano is a part, it is unthinkable that a subordinate, such as Mandrake, would have access to the president. While Mandrake ultimately succeeds in contacting the president, his trials emphasize the futility of protest in, as well as inaccessibility of, the bureaucratic structure. The expectation of obedience leaves disaffected individuals like Mandrake with no recourse. Thus, the problem in the world Kubrick depicts is not the war itself, but the extent to which the bureaucratic system renders the individual powerless to control his own life or effect change. Similarly to Mandrake, Yossarian’s predicament in Catch-22 arises from the distant and impersonal nature of the bureaucracy conducting the war. In Catch-22, the bureaucrats conducting the war experience the war through aerial photographs, an impersonal medium. When discussing an upcoming mission, Colonel Korn explains, “‘we don’t care about the roadblock…Colonel Cathcart wants to come out of this mission with a good, clean aerial photograph he won’t be ashamed to send through the channels” (Heller 338). Korn’s statements emphasize the disconnect between the reality experienced by the soldiers and the officers in the upper echelon of the bureaucracy. Unlike the soldiers, who experience the horrors of war on emotional and physical levels, the officers experience the war on impersonal and aesthetic levels through aerial photographs and forms that do not always give the officers an accurate conception of reality. This becomes evident when Doc Daneeka is declared dead because his name appears on the flight log of a plane that has crashed. Although Doc Daneeka was not actually on the plane and thus is alive, he “realize[s] that, to all intents and purposes, he really [is] dead” (Heller 355) because the forms say he is dead and the forms shape reality. It does not matter that he is biologically alive because in the bureaucratic society Heller depicts forms and paperwork determine the existence of individuals and “one dying boy is just as good as another” (Heller 192). The officers do not view the soldiers as individual humans. It is because of this indifference that Colonel Cathcart views the deaths of twelve soldiers as an opportunity to send out twelve more letters and move closer to having his name appear in the Saturday Evening Post (Heller 292). The problem with bureaucracy is that it is comprised of individuals who are too detached and impersonal to understand the effects of their actions on the individuals under their command. As in Dr. Strangelove, the detachment of the bureaucracy in Catch-22 is problematic because of the extent to which individuals in bureaucratic society must yield to their omnipotent superiors who comprise the bureaucracy. Jones notes, “in bureaucratic society…people are trained to surrender their human prerogatives to processes and situations” (Jones 51). In Catch-22, the bureaucracy seeks to dominate the lives of individuals by stymieing individual thought. In order to ensure its dominance, Group Headquarters institutes rules that prohibit soldiers from questioning official policy (Heller 44). These rules allow Group Headquarters to force young men “to give up their lives for the ideals, aspirations, and idiosyncrasies of the old men [who comprise the bureaucracy]” (Heller 227). The bureaucracy must prevent individual thought and induce mass conformity to ensure that its authority will not be challenged. The success of the bureaucracy in quashing individual thought is evident when Dobbs seeks Yossarian’s approval for his plan to kill Colonel Cathcart, “‘You don’t have to tell me to go ahead. Just tell me it’s a good idea. Okay? Is it a good idea?’” (Heller 237). The bureaucracy has stripped Dobbs of his autonomy and capacity for individual thought, rendering him docile to the point where he can no longer act independently. The bureaucratic society not only controls its constituents’ thought processes, but also their physical beings. This is evident when Chaplain Tappman is apprehended by Captain Black and taken to Group Headquarters, where he is falsely accused of insubordination. As he is being questioned, Chaplain Tappman realizes the power of the bureaucracy, “they might do whatever they wished to him, he realized; these brutal men might beat him to death right there in the basement and no one would intervene to save him” (Heller 391). When Tappman realizes there is no one who can “intervene to save him,” it is an acknowledgement of the horror of an unchecked society that strips individuals of their autonomy and subjects them to the authority of their detached superiors who have little concern for their well-being.The extent to which bureaucratic authority is arbitrary and inaccessible to the individuals who are subjected to it is further illustrated in the experiences of Yossarian. After Snowden’s death, Yossarian begins to reflect on his situation, and realizes that “strangers he [doesn’t] know [shoot] at him with cannons every time he [flies] up in the air to drop bombs on them” (Heller 26). As Yossarian reflects on his situation, he realizes he is fighting in the war solely because he has been ordered to do so. Yossarian is unwilling to risk his life for no reason, so he decides not to submit to arbitrary orders. He wants the bureaucracy to offer justification for its seemingly arbitrary demands, but when he attends the information sessions and begins asking questions, questions are disallowed (Heller 44). As Colonel Cathcart continues to arbitrarily increase the number of missions, Yossarian becomes increasingly fed up with the bureaucratic system and tries to speak directly to Major Major, but Major Major avoids Yossarian by sneaking out his window (Heller 112). This scene and Major Major’s subsequent decision not to see anyone while he’s in his office (Heller 117) depict the inaccessibility of the bureaucracy. The harms of the bureaucratic system are clear as it exercises arbitrary authority over the lives of individuals, but it is inaccessible to these individuals and thus immune to protest or questioning. No longer willing to docilely submit to the omnipotent bureaucracy, Yossarian resists by staying in the hospital for extended periods, refusing to wear his uniform, dropping his bombs haphazardly, refusing to fly any more missions and ultimately running away. When Major Danby seeks to force Yossarian back into the system by telling him that running away is not a good way to solve his problems, “Yossarian patiently explains to Major Danby that the escapists, the true escapists, are those who allow the malign bureaucracy to run their lives; the strong man chooses to live on his own terms” (Jones 47). Thus, Yossarian’s predicament and the problem Heller depicts in Catch-22 is not war, but the impersonal and inaccessible bureaucracy that wields inordinate control of individuals’ lives and strips them of their independence, while refusing to justify its seemingly arbitrary authority. Running away then is Yossarian’s means of escaping the all-encompassing bureaucracy and regaining control of his own life. The view that the focus in both Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Heller’s Catch-22 is on individuals’ helplessness and subservience in a detached, arbitrary, and omnipotent bureaucracy, rather than war, is supported by an analyses of the structure and stylistic techniques employed in each novel. Joseph J. Waldmeir notes of the structure of Catch-22, “Plotless really, the book is unified by the pattern of absurdity established at its outset…Faced with chaotic structure and endless repetition of episodes which individually are often quite funny…one begins to feel [the novel] would have been better if it had been better made” (Waldmeir 163). The disjointed structure, however, is not accidental and Catch-22 would not be better with a more unified plot because by obscuring the storyline, Heller directs the reader’s attention to the satirical aspect of the book, which is equally as important as the plot. In both Catch-22 and Dr. Strangelove, the plot depicts the bureaucratic society and the satire is used to deconstruct and criticize it. As Leo Braudy explains “satire constantly asks the viewer to compare what’s going on with a recognizable reality” (Braudy 59). Thus, while the satire consists of hyperbolic exaggeration, the object of the satire is depicted through the plot and thus there is a recognizable reality to which the analyst can refer. Thus, with satire Heller and Kubrick systematically depict the laughable absurdities of bureaucratic society and deconstruct the system. In Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick uses a variety of techniques to induce the viewer to laugh at and reject bureaucracy. While Dr. Strangelove was originally intended to be a movie based on the serious book Red Alert, as Kubrick was writing the script, he realized he had to leave out things “‘which were either absurd or paradoxical in order to keep it from being funny,’” (Philips 89) so he decided to write “an absurd black comedy and allegorical satire, populated with caricatures rather than fully developed characters” (Philips 15). Kubrick’s deliberate decision to make the film satirical is important because it indicates the satire conveys meanings essential to deciphering the message of the film. The humor in the film is evident from the outset. In the opening scene, the refueling of a bomber denotes a sexual act and the refueling rod becomes a phallic symbol as the camera pans back and forth. Humor also manifests itself in the names Kubrick gives to General Jack D. Ripper and General ‘Buck’ Turgidson as well as Burpleson Airforce Base. When the viewer laughs at Kubrick’s satire he is recognizing the absurdities of bureaucratic society and laughing at and symbolically rejecting that society. As Bakhtin explains, laughter constitutes rejection because “‘Laughter demolishes fear and piety before an object, before a world, making it an object of familiar contact and thus clearing the ground for an absolutely free investigation of it.’” (Craig 76-77). Thus, the satire augments the criticism of bureaucratic society Kubrick expresses in the plot.Throughout Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick not only satirizes the world he depicts generally but frequently employs satire in depicting Ripper and Turgidson because Kubrick wants the reader to laugh at these characters who embody the bureaucratic system. As Ripper tells Mandrake about Plan R, Kubrick uses an extreme low-angle close up to emphasize the phallic cigar jutting from between Ripper’s lips (Falsetto 29). When Ripper speaks with this phallic cigar jutting from his mouth, the viewer cannot help but laugh at him. The satire Kubrick uses to portray Ripper prevents the viewer from taking Ripper or the values he represents seriously. This phallic image is not arbitrary because it relates to Ripper’s justification for ordering the execution of Plan R, which is that “his diminishing sexual potency…[stems from] an international communist conspiracy to poison the drinking water” (Philips xix). In this scene, Ripper undercuts the validity of his justification for war and the seriousness of his own character because his theory is palpably absurd and laughable and emphasizes his insanity. The phallic imagery and bureaucracy are intertwined and jointly satirized later when Ripper whips a phallic gun out of a golf bag to defend against approaching troops. The phallic nature of the gun reminds the viewer of Ripper’s absurd theory and the golf bag reminds the viewer of Ripper’s connection to bureaucracy. Kubrick is mocking the fact that for bureaucrats, like Ripper, war, like golf, is nothing more than a game because it is their subordinates, and not they, who are personally affected. Turgidson embodies the bureaucratic system in the same way Ripper does, so he is also an object of satire. The prominently depicted phallic cigar that prevents Ripper from being taken seriously when he speaks is replaced for Turgidson by farcical facial contortions, that Kubrick emphasizes with close camera shots. Even when Turgidson is not speaking he cannot be taken seriously as his behavior parallels that of an immature boy: he chews his gum obnoxiously, pouts when President Muffley rejects his plan, instigates a wrestling match with the Russian ambassador, and gesticulates wildly as he describes with glee how the remaining bomber can survive and set off the Doomsday Device. By inducing the reader to laugh at Ripper and Turgidson, Kubrick “change[s] the truth value of what those characters [represent] so as to undermine [their] seriousness, [their] claim to…authority, and so to call [them] into question” (White). Thus, by satirizing Ripper and Turgidson, Kubrick undermines their seriousness and authority and thus the seriousness and authority of the bureaucratic system they represent. The laughter Kubrick’s satire induces is thus a form of rejection because it signifies a recognition of the absurdities of the bureaucratic system. In Catch-22, the narrative techniques employed by Heller are similarly essential to his criticism of bureaucratic society. In Catch-22, the chaotic structure is not accidental, but is an intentional mechanism designed to force the reader to look beyond the plot. Heller does not want the reader to simply analyze the plot; he wants the reader to analyze the satiric techniques that make the book unique. Heller’s satire most frequently appears in his descriptions of the officers who comprise the upper echelons of the bureaucracy or the policies of the bureaucracy. Heller mocks the inefficiency of bureaucratic society through his satiric depiction of the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade, a campaign started by Captain Black to get back at Major Major for stealing his promotion. Heller writes, “The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but…Captain Black…scrupulously enforced the doctrine of ‘Continual Reaffirmation’…, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they signed a loyalty oath the day before” (Heller 124). The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade and Continual Reaffirmation are meant to serve as microcosms for the inefficient and unnecessary policies of bureaucracy. While Black is trying to make Major Major look bad by not allowing him to sign a loyalty oath, and thus make him look disloyal, ironically, it is Black who is allowing his petty squabble to impede the war effort. The satire is evident because the policies are self-defeating insofar as they are meant to help the war effort by ensuring loyalty, but in fact hurt it by preventing the organization of crews. Moreover, the reader cannot help but laugh at Continual Reaffirmation because it is absurd to think that it could actually weed out disloyal soldiers and that soldiers would become disloyal overnight. While the example itself is extreme and absurd, Heller’s satire is effective because the reader recognizes that this example serves as a microcosm of, and references the reality of, the inefficiency of bureaucracy. By inducing the reader to laugh, Heller directs the reader’s attention to this flaw and causes the reader to recognize the absurdity of the bureaucratic system. In Catch-22, Heller also uses satire to mock the officers who espouse the values of the bureaucratic system. As Craig notes, “its objects of satire are portrayed as being fools and knaves” (Craig 27). By having the officers say things that upon reflection are asinine, Heller makes the officers appear to be fools. During an inspirational speech, Colonel Cargill says to the men, “You’re American officers. The officers of no other army in the world can make that statement. Think about it.” This statement is humorous because Cargill asks the men to reflect upon the statement, but when one reflects upon the statement its absurdity is evident. It is merely a statement of fact, not a statement of the men’s abilities. Thus, Cargill’s inspirational speech is not inspirational at all. Frequently, Heller’s satire takes the form of self-negating “statements that deny the meaning they have just advanced” (Craig 26). For example, in describing Colonel Cathcart, Heller writes “Colonel Cathcart had courage and never hesitated to volunteer his men for any target available” (Heller 64). While Cathcart might be courageous in volunteering himself to attack any target available, his willingness to volunteer others does not make him courageous. Heller does not directly say that Cathcart is a coward, but the insinuation is clear. The self-negating sentence is an effective tool because it allows Heller to portray as absurd seemingly valid arguments. This occurs when Major Sanderson rebukes Yossarian for having “no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You’re dangerous and depraved and you ought to be taken outside and shot” (Heller 309). While the argument that during times of war individuals must sometimes cede to, and make sacrifices for, the common good, Sanderson’s argument is undercut because Yossarian’s challenging “excessive authority and obsolete traditions” presumably is a good thing. Heller thus uses the self-negating sentence to control how the arguments he rejects are portrayed and force the reader to recognize their absurdity and reject them as well. As Craig notes, “‘a sympathetic reader, laughing at its satirized subjects, feels himself to be a member of a select aristocracy based on virtue and intelligence….Catch-22 allows its readers to celebrate their ethical superiority over, and distance from, the military machine and bureaucratic machine, which are made to look ridiculous and insane in the novel’” (Craig 27). Through his satire, Kubrick induces the reader to laugh at, and to accept, the absurdity of the policies and manifestations of the bureaucratic system and to distance himself from it. Thus, the worlds depicted by both Kubrick and Heller are horrific and comically absurd not because of the war, but because of the arbitrary and inaccessible bureaucracy that wields omnipotent authority over the lives of the individuals subject to its control. When the analyst laughs at the bureaucratic society Kubrick and Heller depict, he recognizes its absurd and arbitrary nature and commits to resisting its totalizing effects. While the criticism Kubrick presents in Dr. Strangelove is to some extent linked specifically to the military bureaucracy, insofar as he is criticizing its policy of deterrence through mutually assured destruction, Heller’s criticism is not. To ensure that his criticism will not be considered inextricably linked to war or the military bureaucracy, Heller “sets his book at [WWII’s] end, when Germany was no longer a military threat” (Merrill 12) and “does everything he can to dissociate his own satiric attack from the actual war against Nazism” (Merrill 53). Unlike Kubrick, who links his criticism specifically to the military bureaucracy’s handling of nuclear war during the Cold War, Heller is intentionally ambiguous so that his criticism will not be considered indelibly connected to war or the military. Although war is the context for the book, Catch-22 is intended to warn the reader of and satirize the bureaucratic structure of the business world. To this end, Heller inundates the novel with “references to nonmilitary practices – e.g., the ‘farming’ policies of Major Major’s father, Doc Daneeka’s prewar medical practice, the legend of Chief White Halfoat’s tribe and the oil industry” (Merrill 12). It is because of these references to the business world and Heller’s intentional ambiguity in relating it to war that the novel remains timely. To describe Catch-22 as a war novel then is to describe it inadequately and do it injustice. Catch-22 intentionally, and Dr. Strangelove, even if unintentionally, are applicable not simply to war or the military bureaucracy, but to the “‘the contemporary regimented business society’” (Merill 53). Thus, Heller’s and Kubrick’s critical depictions and satire are applicable to today’s society and individuals because they warn of the totalizing bureaucratic systems that are present in the business world of which these individuals may be a part.

Daneeka and Thoughtful Laughter in Catch-22

George Meredith once reasoned, “The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter.” The importance of encouraging thoughtful laughter in comedy lies in its ability to humorously provoke reflection of some greater idea or theme. In the dark comedy Catch-22, Joseph Heller provides witty writing and action alongside meaningful themes, a combination that sparks this kind of “thoughtful laughter”. In particular, the humorous confusion and frustration surrounding the assumed death of Doc Daneeka markedly lends itself to this concept. Although the ludicrousness of the humorous scene may appear trivial in regard to the development of the plot, Heller incites reflection on both the power of official documents and the dehumanization of soldiers by the inhumane officers.Heller uses the scene as a means to reveal that during a time of war, statements that are written on a form hold a significantly greater importance over the actuality of the situation. In fact, the confusion surrounding the death of Doc Daneeka is derived from Sergeant Towser and the War Department’s unwillingness to accept reality over what is shown on the flight records. “With lips still quivering, Towser rose and trudged outside reluctantly to break the bad news to Gus and Wes, discreetly avoiding any conversation with Doc Daneeka himself as he moved by the flight surgeon’s slight sepulchral figure” (Heller 340). Towser acknowledges Daneeka’s existence, but he eludes taking action because Daneeka “gave every indication of proving a still thornier administrative problem for him” (340). In addition to Towser’s recorded excuse for disregarding Doc Daneeka, Mrs. Daneeka struggles with reports. An illegible letter from her husband gave the woman hope after receiving a War Department telegram that her husband had been killed in action. Eventually, though, she turns her “woeful shrieks of lamentation” (341) to delight over her newfound wealth from the numerous insurance benefits as she begins to accept the War Department’s continual denial. In a final and emotional letter from Doc Daneeka, he pleads for his wife to acknowledge his existence; however, this is immediately countered by Colonel Cathcart’s overly generic response:“Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing in action” (344).This constant battle between the blemished and poignant letters that clearly come from an emotional Daneeka and the detached responses from the bureaucracy, while ridiculous in nature, serves to illuminate a major theme in the novel: the power that documentation has over humanity. On a broad scope of the novel, Catch-22 is simply documentation that may or may not even exist, but certainly dictates the activity of the soldiers. Because of this scene’s meaning within the text, the audience is able to elaborate on the humor by questioning or confirming the veracity of Heller’s claim about official documentation, thereby awakening thoughtful laughter. This chapter also elicits thoughtful laughter as a result of Heller’s hyperbole of the dehumanization of the soldiers. Colonel Cathcart’s inhumane character is particularly targeted through his letter to Mrs. Daneeka. One would predict that the group commander of a man killed would write a more concerned letter rather than such a perfunctory and standard sentence. This letter is more significant in the fact that through it allows Heller to convey the impression that the officers treat the soldiers like a collective group of unknown entities. By doing so, Heller advances the message that the unit in power, such as the officers, treats its underlings with no compassion. This management even extends to the family of the soldiers, as Mrs. Daneeka equates her husband to the monetary benefits she receives from the government and insurance companies. Such inhumane treatment from a spouse of a supposedly killed man displays how all individuals outside the immediate concern with the soldiers have an automated response to the soldiers. Such an illogical notion encourages the reader to recognize such a flawed system, or even cogitate a new one. Daneeka’s assumed death stretches much farther than an event sparked by misunderstanding. Heller depicts every element of the situation in order to convey a deeper meaning of the plot. Details about Towser’s conflicting feelings and actions, Mrs. Daneeka’s fading response, and the War Department and Cathcart’s inhumanity all play a part in Heller’s message about the insanity the soldiers faced. While on the surface the event comes across as a frustrating misperception, the thought behind the chapter extends into fundamental understandings of Heller’s message.

The Unanswered Question: Holden Caulfield, John Yossarian and the Fate of Innocence

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 reveal a concern for innocence within each protagonist. Salinger and Heller center their novels on questions relating to innocence: Holden Caulfield’s “where did the ducks go” (Salinger, 13) and John Yossarian’s “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?” (Heller, 35). Both Holden and Yossarian state a central question early in the novel. Each question develops with the protagonist’s experience throughout the novel, revealing widespread ignorance in relation to innocence. The characters’ interactions with others provide no help, so they must go on their own search for truth. This search, however, leaves both Holden and Yossarian with no answer. Holden Caulfield and John Yossarian introduce central questions that develop to reveal a single truth within each novel: the attempt to solve the disappearance of innocence will only lead to series of unanswered questions, and the only available conclusion is that the loss of innocence cannot be prevented in a hostile world.There are minor differences to address between the protagonists in The Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22. At sixteen years old, Holden is much younger than Yossarian (who is twenty-eight), and therefore has a slightly different perspective on life. Holden has a desire to stop all change to save innocence (which he reveals in the museum), while Yossarian is torn between his desire to save his own life and the desire to save others. At sixteen, Holden’s most unfortunate situation is getting kicked out of prep school. At twenty-eight, Yossarian’s worries are centered on everyone being out to kill him. Yossarian is an adult, while Holden is still an adolescent. Yossarian has experienced more than Holden has experienced: Yossarian has been to Europe, has had sexual experience, and has experienced war, while Holden has been confined to the world of adolescent male prep-school life. Once the differences between the two protagonists are recognized as minor, the striking similarities can begin to be understood. The central questions of the novels, at first glance, appear unrelated. How can Holden’s question relating to ducks combine with Yossarian’s question about a human to reveal the fate of innocence? Holden’s concern for ducks appears to be of less importance than Yossarian’s concern for humanity. Holden asks his question to different people, then searches for the answer on his own, while Yossarian leaves his question hanging throughout Catch-22, attempting to figure out an answer in his experience, leading to a startling revelation at novel’s end. Yossarian’s revelation in relation to innocence at the end of Catch-22 is a more elaborate example of the disappearance of innocence than Holden’s search for the ducks. Upon further examination, however, these questions are only different on the surface. Once these differences are set aside, the similarities between Holden Caulfield and John Yossarian come into view. The focus on one central question arises early in each novel, and each contributes to the revelation of the universal fate of innocence. Holden Caulfield introduces the question, “where did the ducks go,” early in his narrative. Instead of listening to Spencer’s explanation of why he should care about failing, Holden thinks about whether or not the ducks in Central Park will freeze in the winter. Holden wonders “if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away” when the lagoon freezes (Salinger, 13). To Holden, the preservation of life becomes important early in the novel. He worries that the ducks may not know where to go in the winter, freezing in the lagoon in Central Park. To Holden, failure is the inability to protect the innocent, and the ducks freezing in Central Park would be a calamity. He, however, is not only worried about protecting ducks. This concern for the ducks is a metaphor for Holden’s concern for humanity. His true question in this: who will nurture and protect the innocent in a world that is freezing around them?Holden takes his question with him on his journey, and the answers he receives along the way reveal the fate of innocence. When Holden takes a cab downtown, he asks the driver, “You know those ducks in that lagoon…do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know by any chance?” (Salinger, 60). The response Holden gets is indicative of the world around him. Holden describes the driver: “He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman” (60). The cab driver’s response reveals that those who care about preserving the innocence of a species will be seen as insane. This attitude prevents progress in the same way it prevents Holden from finding out what happens to the ducks in Central Park. The second time Holden asks about the ducks, he asks Horwitz, another cab driver. Horwitz’s response is, “How the hell should I know a stupid thing like that…The fish don’t go noplace” (Salinger, 82). Horwitz discards Holden’s concern as stupid, and he doesn’t even provide a coherent answer to Holden’s question. Horwitz answers a question about ducks with a statement about fish, and thus represents the illogical world around Holden. Not only will people look at Holden as a madman for caring about the innocent, they won’t even provide coherent responses to his concerns. This experience is what David Castronovo describes as “something wrong with the world, something essentially dead and phony and disgusting about the arrangement of things” (Castronovo, 181). The world surrounding Holden is dead in the sense that it has no care for the innocent, as the drivers disregard the fate of the ducks. It is phony because it provides answers about fish to questions about ducks. It is disgusting because it cannot find meaning in questions like Holden’s. This “dead, phony, and disgusting arrangement” is a hostile environment in which Holden is left alone, with very little hope.By the end of the novel, Holden searches for an answer on his own, unable to rely on the hostile people who view his questions as insane and stupid. After leaving the Wicker Bar, Holden states, “I figured I’d go by that little lake and see what the hell the ducks were doing, see if they were around or not. I still didn’t know if they were around or not” (Salinger, 153). Holden needs to know what happens to the innocent. It is the main worry in his life. Holden reaches the lagoon, seeing it “partly frozen and partly not frozen” (153). He “walk[s] around the whole damn lake…but [doesn’t] see a single duck” (153). Holden can’t find an answer, and retires to a bench, “shivering like a bastard” (153), wanting to “come to terms with his despair” (Svogun, 112), and immediately thinks of his grandfather’s funeral. Holden relates his inability to find an answer to death. Not only does the possible death of the ducks worry Holden, but the possibility that innocence itself may disappear like the ducks leaves him shivering. Holden feels like he may die after finding no hope that innocence may be saved. So, Salinger shows, the attempt to save the innocent will only reveal an unexplainable disappearance of the innocent, and the lack of an available answer to Holden’s question shows that the problem of the disappearance of innocence has no solution. The fate of innocence is its unavoidable disappearance; this is revealed in Holden’s unanswered question and is solidified by Yossarian’s inability to find an answer to his own question.John Yossarian introduces the central question in Catch-22 early in the novel: “and then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer: ‘where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?’” (Heller, 35). Snowden’s question develops throughout the novel, as Holden’s does in The Catcher in the Rye. Yossarian thinks “of Snowden…a vaguely familiar kid who was badly wounded” (436). As Holden reveals a concern for the preservation of life early in The Catcher in the Rye, Yossarian reveals the same concern early in Catch-22. To Yossarian, Snowden is the embodiment of innocence, a “kid” brought into war and destroyed by his environment. His question is not a desire to physically find the Snowdens of yesteryear. Yossarian wants to know what has happened to the innocent. He wants to know why he does not encounter more Snowdens. Yossarian searches for an answer throughout Catch-22. The first time he asks the question, the immediate response is, “I’m afraid I don’t understand” (35). The corporal whom Yossarian asks has no ability to comprehend the question because he is oblivious to the loss of innocence in the world around him. Yossarian holds on to the question, hoping that somewhere he can find a solution to the problem of how to save the innocent. Yossarian, unable to find a comforting answer by asking his question, studies the people around him for answers. Kid Sampson, Nately, and Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister are all characters who hold on to innocence and may provide an answer to his question. Their survival would provide Yossarian with the hope that innocence can, in fact, survive in the world around him. This would mean the Snowdens of yesteryear have not disappeared. However, the fates of these three people combine with Yossarian’s experience of Snowden’s death to show the hopelessness of an attempt to save the innocent.Kid Sampson’s innocence is revealed in his name. He is the “kid” who is supposed to develop into Sampson in a society that expects the innocent to turn into men. His naïveté reveals itself in his first statement. Yossarian asks, “What’s wrong with the plane?” (Heller, 140). Kid Sampson replies, “Is something wrong…are we bailing out?” (140). Kid’s first reaction is fear, a fear that comes from inexperience. Kid still possesses the inexperience of an innocent youth. To further display his innocence, Kid “look[s] for moral support toward Nately” (141). Kid looks to the most innocent character in the novel for support and guidance. Linked to this high level of innocence, Kid’s fate disturbs Yossarian more than any other character’s. Kid’s death is “one of many deaths which take us completely by surprise….and convey an awful contingency, a callousness of God, nature and human depravity” (Young, “Deadly Unconscious Logics in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22”). Kid’s death disturbs Yossarian the most because “Kid Sampson had rained all over” (Heller, 338). Kid Sampson seems to be innocently enjoying a day at the beach, and stands on the raft while McWatt flies overhead. He is described as “blond, pale Kid Sampson” (337), like a child who has not yet been out in the sun, and his innocence is exposed when he doesn’t think about the consequences of jumping up to touch McWatt’s low-flying plane. McWatt’s plane flies “just low enough for a propeller to slice [Kid] half away” (337) as Kid jumps. Like Kid Sampson, sliced in half by a plane, innocence is destroyed by those who don’t pay attention to where they are, paying as much attention to the innocent as McWatt pays attention to where he is flying. Kid Sampson’s fate is the first sign that innocence cannot survive in Yossarian’s world, as even the strongest (the “Sampsons”) of the innocent can be “chopped” down. Kid’s death is the first opportunity for Yossarian to find the Snowdens of yesteryear that disappears, and shows that the innocent may die before he finds them.Nately is the main figure of innocence in Catch-22, as he “had lived for almost twenty years without trauma, tension, hate, or neurosis” (Heller, 248). He reveals his innocence in his conversation with the old man in Rome. Nately holds firm to the ideas introduced to him in the army, without questioning anything. Nately is unconvinced by the old man, stating “There is nothing so absurd about risking your life for your country!” and “Anything worth living for is worth dying for” (247). At nineteen, Nately accepts his job in the army as one that may involve death. Nately, an innocent character accepting death, expands the focus of Yossarian’s question. Now, the innocent are accepting death as a part of being a soldier instead of fighting the establishment with hopes of staying alive. Because Nately accepts the orders to keep flying missions, he is killed in a plane crash, when another plane “chewed off” (376) his plane’s tail. Nately, one of the innocent figures Yossarian hopes to save, is sent spiraling and crashing to the ground and “there were no parachutes” (376). Nately has no means of escape chewed up and spit out by those with no regard for the innocent. There is no hope for Yossarian to save Nately. The innocent continue to disappear. The ambivalent world around Yossarian keeps sending the innocent crashing to their deaths without wondering how their innocence could be saved. Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister becomes Yossarian’s last hope to find the Snowdens of yesteryear. Yossarian visits Rome and finds the kid sister “flushed away…out into the street” (Heller, 403). Yossarian is appalled that a kid would be allowed into that environment, fearing that her innocence would be lost. His immediate response is, “But she’s only a kid!” (403). Yossarian sees another innocent human slipping away, and hopes to finally have the chance to save one. He asks around hoping he can find her, worrying that “she’s just a little kid, and she’s all alone in this city with no one to take care of her” (409). He states, “I want to protect her from harm. Don’t you know what I’m talking about?” (409). Yossarian sees that the world does not understand his desire to save the innocent. His search for the Snowdens of yesteryear will receive no aid from those around him. The one chance he has to save the innocent is lost, and a child is left to wander in a world that destroys innocence. At the end of his search, “Yossarian walked in lonely torture, feeling estranged” (413). Yossarian’s search for the Snowdens of yesteryear reveals the ambivalent attitude of a hostile world: innocence may be lost forever, and nobody notices enough to try to save it. Because of this attitude, the fate of innocence becomes clear. Yossarian’s final discovery is as disturbing as Holden’s: the Snowdens of yesteryear are nowhere to be found, just as the ducks in the park have disappeared. There is no answer to his question, as Robert Young explains, “Yossarian asks many questions about the war, but they all boil down to one ‘which had no answer’: ‘Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?’” (Young, “Deadly Unconscious Logics in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22”). The lack of an answer describing how to save the innocent shows that the deterioration of innocence will continue, and attempting to save the innocent will be futile.Holden Caulfield and John Yossarian reveal that the world will never provide an answer to the disappearance of ignorance. The ducks on the pond and the Snowdens of yesteryear will not be found. Both go on a quest to find the answer to their question, yet, in the end, there is no answer. Holden is left shivering on a park bench, and eventually ends up in a mental hospital. Yossarian is left to flee his situation in search of peace in Sweden. Thus, the desire to solve the disappearance of innocence only leads to instability, and will send men to states of insecurity. Holden demonstrates this at the end of The Catcher in the Rye: “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about” (Salinger, 214). Holden misses the opportunity to try to salvage the innocence of all the people he meets. He misses the opportunity to at least try to save the innocent now that he knows there is no hope. He wants to return to his dream: “if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them” (173). In the same way, Yossarian knows that he will never find the Snowdens of yesteryear, but wants to return to some form of hope by running to Sweden. When Snowden dies, Yossarian realizes the inevitable fate of the innocent: Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret (Heller, 440).In the end, insecurity prevails. There is no solution to the question of how to save the innocent. Holden Caulfield demonstrates the beginning of the insecurity when he finds no ducks in Central Park, knowing he will never figure out how to protect the innocent. Yossarian takes the fact that one will never figure out how to protect the innocent and proceeds to reveal the harsh reality that, after innocence disappears with the ducks on the lagoon, it is allowed to die with the Snowdens of yesteryear with man deteriorating into garbage. Thus, the questions combine. The ducks in Central Park become part of the story of the Snowdens of yesteryear. The lost innocent succumb to Snowden’s secret, their potential protectors’ questions unanswered, and innocence deteriorates, revealing that the fate of innocence is its disappearance.

There’s always a “Catch”

Catch-22 is a novel that tells many stories, but the crux of the novel concerns Joseph Yossarian, a bombardier stationed at the United States Army Air Force base on the fictional Mediterranean island of Pianosa. A war rages between the Allies and the Nazis, but there is another, more important war occurring for Yossarian – a far more personal war. His war is not only against the Germans but also against anyone else who tries to kill him, including the military hierarchy that demands that he continue to fly combat missions. According to Robert M. Young, Yossarian’s only goal is to “live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission…[is] to come down alive” (Young). To Yossarian, the war begins to seem quite mad. Leon F. Seltzer states that Yossarian lives in a “nightmarish world in which one’s superior…officers constitute a greater threat to one’s life and sanity than the enemy” (188). Officers in the military should be models of leadership to their subordinates, setting an example and putting the needs of the men under their command before their own desires. The officers in Catch-22, however, abuse their power in order to achieve some personal goal: public recognition, promotions in rank or position, or some form of individual gratification. The men commanded by these corrupt leaders “no longer serve a cause; they serve the insane whims of their superiors,” as indicated by Darren Felty (106). Joseph Heller’s goal is not just to criticize the act of war, but also to satire “those who subvert…institutions for their own advantage” (Young 351). In Catch-22, Heller redefines the role of authority from responsibility and accountability that are used to serve and protect one’s subordinates to control that allows self-seeking men to fulfill their selfish goals.The main obstacle to Yossarian in achieving his goal is his wing commander, Colonel Cathcart, who constantly raises the number of missions his men have to fly before they can transfer stateside. Striving to be promoted to general, Col. Cathcart exploits military institutions only to polish his image. Granville Hicks describes Col. Cathcart as “a man who will stop at nothing to get promoted…who does not care how many men are killed if he can get a little favorable publicity” (172). Col. Cathcart increases the number of missions each time someone comes close in order to appear courageous to his superiors. Young states that Col. Cathcart “will gladly go on raising the number [of missions] to 6000, if that is what it takes to impress the generals” (Young). Attempting to gain recognition, Col. Cathcart invites the Chaplain to pray before the missions, but instead of praying for protection, Col. Cathcart has the Chaplain “pray for…a tighter bomb pattern” (192). Col. Cathcart is a dunce, and his superiors are not any more intelligent. Even though Col. Cathcart clearly uses his position to accomplish his personal goals, the catch-22 still applies. In this case, Catch-22 demonstrates that all soldiers have to obey their commanding officer.Captain Black serves as the intelligence officer for Yossarian’s squadron. Like every other authority figure in the novel, Captain Black strives to gain power and status. He thinks that he is the logical choice for squadron commander after Maj. Duluth dies because “he [is] the squadron intelligence officer, which [means] he [is] more intelligent than everyone in the squadron” (112). The High Command chooses Major Major as the new squadron commander, making Capt. Black suspicious that Maj. Major is both a communist and “Henry Fonda” (112). In order to prove his theory and to exact revenge, Capt. Black begins the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade. The “crusade” requires all enlisted men and officers on combat duty to sign a loyalty oath in order to receive maps, pay, and eventually, chow. The “men in the squadron [discover] themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them” and begin to voice their opinions (113). The circular logic of Catch-22 appears again when Capt. Black replies “people who were loyal would not mind signing all the loyalty oaths they had to [sign]” (113). In Capt. Black’s eyes, the crusade is working because Maj. Major is not signing the loyalty oaths, verifying that he is a communist. Maj. Major does not sign the loyalty oaths because Capt. Black will not allow him to do so, for “that would defeat the whole purpose of [the]…crusade” (114). The great crusade comes to an end when Major —– de Coverly returns from Rome and refuses to sign a loyalty oath for his food. Major —– de Coverly enters the mess hall and orders the mess officer to “Gimme eat…Give everybody eat!” (116). Even though Major —– de Coverly’s act was a “treacherous stab in the back,” Capt. Black views his “crusade” as a success for people to realize the “danger of Major Major,” and Col. Cathcart awards him with a letter of commendation.Doc Daneeka is the squadron’s medical doctor whose “idea of a good time was to sulk” and worry about his own health (32). His two medical assistants, Gus and Wes, perform all of the day-to-day work. Every day, when Doc claims to feel sick, he stops by the medical tent and Gus and Wes “look him over” (33). They “never find anything wrong with him,” causing Doc to “lose confidence in Gus and Wes” and to consider having them “replaced by someone who could find something wrong” (33). Doc is not only a hypochondriac, but also a man with a great deal of self-pity, whose “constant lament” is “why me?” (34). Every time Yossarian approaches Doc with a medical or personal issue, he digresses from Yossarian’s problem and begins complaining about his own predicament. Doc abuses his authority again by directing pilots to enter his name in the flight logs in order to collect flight pay. The decision to alter the flight logs comes back to haunt Doc when the plane he is scheduled to be on “[flies] into a mountain” (339). The squadron assumes, logically, that Doc is dead since he “didn’t come down in a parachute” (339). Even though everyone in the squadron can see him, on paper and to the military, Doc is dead along with everyone else who perished on the plane (339). “He drew no pay or PX rations” or anything from supply, for dead men no longer have use for these items (343). Heller uses Doc to illustrate that power can corrupt even the medical personnel, the professionals who are supposedly the most dedicated to the men.Major Major misuses his authority as squadron commander by not accepting the responsibility, or obligation to act, that is conventionally associated with that position. However, Maj. Major’s abuse of power is not due to personal interest, but rather to a lack of experience as a leader. After only four days in the Army as a private, “an I.B.M. machine with a sense of humor” promotes Pvt. Major to the rank of Major (86). Upon completing aviation training, Maj. Major leaves for Pianosa, where “rank [means] little to the men on combat duty” (88). The fact that rank is meaningless allows Maj. Major to engage in numerous activities with subordinates, for he does not have a command billet. The role of squadron commander is forced on Maj. Major only because he is already a Major, not for his leadership abilities. When Maj. Major learns of his new command billet, Col. Cathcart adds, “don’t think it means anything, because it doesn’t” (88). Instead of stepping up to the challenge of a new role, Maj. Major devises ways to avoid everyone in his squadron. As a leader, Maj. Major is “mediocre” to the point where people are “impressed by how unimpressive he [is]” (83).The novel introduces Lieutenant Scheisskopf, an aviation training squadron commander, whose only goal is winning the weekly parades. Heller makes an interesting choice in naming this character, for “Scheisskopf” is the German word for “shithead.” Because of his obsession with parades and drills, Lt. Scheisskopf accomplishes very little training. The High Command promotes Lt. Scheisskopf through the ranks because it gives General Peckem a larger staff, not because of his abilities. As a Colonel under Gen. Peckem, Col. Scheisskopf’s main concern is if he will “be able to conduct parades every Sunday afternoon” (320). When Gen. Peckem informs Col. Scheisskopf that “parades are out of the question,” he then asks if he can “schedule the parades [and] then call them off” (321-323). Lt. Scheisskopf’s obsession with the parades also affects his personal life. Lt. Scheisskopf “longed desperately to win parades,” causing him to sit “up half the night…while his wife waited amorously for him” (72). In order to obtain revenge on her husband for his sexual apathy, Mrs. Scheisskopf sleeps with any willing cadet in Lt. Scheisskopf’s training squadron. The military utilizes parades and standard drills to enforce discipline and cultivate an immediate response to orders. Heller uses the character of Col. Scheisskopf to illustrate the mindlessness and pointlessness of marching “sixty or seventy…cadet squadrons until enough of them had collapsed to call it a day” (71).Heller also uses the character of Lt. Scheisskopf to insult the military justice system. In Lt. Scheisskopf’s free time, he tries to recruit cadets to give false testimonies against Clevinger. Supposedly, Clevinger tried to overthrow the cadet officers the Lt. Scheisskopf had appointed. To Lt. Scheisskopf, Clevinger is dangerous because he “[has] a mind…people with minds tend to get pretty smart” (71). Even though Lt. Scheisskopf acquires huge amounts of testimony, he lacks “something to charge him with” (71). Regardless, Clevinger stands trial, where the Action Board utilizes the “catch-22” logic that one “[is] guilty…or [one] would not have been accused” (81). The charges brought against Clevinger include “breaking ranks while in formation, felonious assault…high treason, provoking, being a smart guy, [and] listening to classical music” because he had “stumbled while marching” (76). The lack of justice is not only shown in the charges against Clevinger, but also in the arrangement of the trial. Lt. Scheisskopf is a judge, the prosecuting attorney, and the “officer defending” Clevinger (76). Because the members of the Action Board have nothing better to do, they convict Clevinger and then try Popinjay, the court recorder, for he could not keep pace with the madness.Heller reveals the futility and the worthlessness of the bureaucratic red tape that consumes the military through the bickering of General Dreedle and Gen. Peckem. Gen. Peckem is a handsome, 53-year-old man who suffers from verbosity and overuse of ceremonial language. Gen. Peckem “[is] always augmenting things” and “approaching events [are] never coming, but always upcoming” (319). According to Gen. Peckem, his “only fault [is] that he had no faults” (319). Even though Gen. Dreedle is on the same “side” of the war as Gen. Peckem, he believes that “Dreedle is the enemy” (323). Gen. Dreedle, the wing commander, is a mean, torturous man. He hates his “lousy son of a bitch” son-in-law only because he hates marriages, not because of the son-in-law (214). When Gen. Dreedle awards the naked Yossarian the Distinguished Flying Cross, he does not become upset with Yossarian’s insubordination because “he just won a medal…if he wants to receive it without any clothes on, what the hell” (218). Gen. Dreedle approves of soldiers not wearing their uniforms just to spite Gen. Peckem, who ordered everyone to “send [their] men into combat in full-dress uniform so they’ll make a good impression on the enemy when they are shot down” (219). Expecting immediate obedience from all who serve him, Gen. Dreedle is quick to anger those who cross him. When Major Danby fails to remain silent in the briefing room, Gen. Dreedle orders Col. Cathcart to “take him out and shoot him” (221). When Colonel Moodus attempts to tell Gen. Dreedle that he does not possess the authority to have someone shot, Gen. Dreedle retorts with “who the Hell says I can’t?” (222). Through the incompetence of Gen. Peckem and Gen. Dreedle, Heller shows that corruption in an organization penetrates all the way to the top of the chain of command. Milo Minderbinder is a pilot in the squadron who volunteers for mess officer, who begins his own black market operation, and whose transactions are brilliant, and at the same time, insane. Not only does Heller use Milo to show how people can abuse their position, but also to represent the flaws of a capitalistic society. Using his position as mess officer to aid him, Milo forms a massive black market syndicate – Milo and Minderbinder Enterprises – that extends throughout Europe. The business syndicate that Milo forms begins with dealing in black market eggs, transforming into a worldwide enterprise in which, Milo claims, “everyone has a share” (231). Early in the novel, Milo shows his business genius when he buys and sells the eggs from Malta. Yossarian cannot understand how “Milo could buy eggs in Malta for seven cents apiece and sell them at a profit for five cents” (67). Milo’s initial business deals seem harmless, even advantageous to the squadron, for the “syndicate makes the profit” and “everyone has a share” (231). Even though Milo states the nature of his syndicate to be democratic, Seltzer states that the name Milo and Minderbinder Enterprises “points…to individual ownership and control” (190). At first, Milo’s syndicate seems like a little harmless profiteering, and like Yossarian, he bends the rules toward his own advantage. Through his dealings, Milo eventually becomes the mayor of several of the towns where he trades constantly. As Milo’s syndicate grows, it takes on a more menacing air. As stated by Hicks, Milo “steals the carbon dioxide cylinders that are used to inflate lifejackets, and takes the syrettes of morphine from the first-aid kits” to trade (172). Milo has his planes “bomb his own outfit” as part of a deal he makes with the Germans, for they “are also members in good standing of the syndicate” (257, 256). “The mad satire turns sour,” as declare by Anthony Burgess, when “an American airman bombs his own base on behalf of the Nazis” (140). The bombing run wounds and kills men on the ground, but because the syndicate profits and “everyone has a share,” everyone profits from the bombing, according to Milo (231). Milo’s reasons for attacking his own squadron are no more arbitrary than Col. Cathcart ambitiously volunteering his men for more missions. One could even argue that Milo’s actions are more rational than Col. Cathcart’s, for Milo receives a profit, while Col. Cathcart does not have a real chance at becoming a general. Milo’s personal goal drives him to form a profitable syndicate, even if men have to suffer in the process.In Catch-22 not one person in a command position unselfishly cares for his men. Heller designed this phenomenon to reiterate the adage “power corrupts while an absolute power corrupts absolutely.” From a military standpoint, the leaders of military forces need to be admirable examples of responsibility and morality, especially in a time of war. The relationship between the officers and the enlisted men in a fighting unit should be that of a teacher to a scholar. The officers in charge in Catch-22 treat their subordinates as if they were slaves. Ultimately, the message that Heller communicates is that anyone who is in a position of influence – even in the civilian world – should know their subordinates and look out for their welfare.

A Story about a Yo-Yo: How Catch-22 comes full circle without being circular

It seems fitting that Yossarian’s nickname in Catch-22 is “Yo-Yo.” A yo-yo is a perfect metaphor for the recurring images of circularity and linearity that characterizes the chaotic world of Joseph Heller’s novel. On one hand, a yo-yo follows the straight-line, linear path of its string, but on the other hand, a yo-yo bobs up and down continuously and always finds its way back to the palm, exactly where it began. Yossarian’s moral development in Catch-22 is one of the many circularly linear (or linearly circular) themes in the novel, but unlike the rest, it ultimately succeeds in breaking out of the hopeless circularity of Heller’s world. Heller sets up a series of binary and corresponding moral dilemmas that Yossarian must face, and through parallel comparison allows his protagonist to finally come to a moral awakening.Many of Yossarian’s experiences in Catch-22 occur in twos. Trying to convince the doctors that he is indeed insane, Yossarian proclaims, “I see everything twice” (190). Yossarian does indeed see many things twice, and throughout the novel comes to similar moral impasses twice before making the “right” decision. Though the novel is not written chronologically, it often returns to two instances in Yossarian’s past: the bombing raids over the cities of Ferrara and Avignon. Yossarian receives a Distinguished Flying Cross and is promoted to Captain for flying over Ferrara (twice) and destroying a bridge, “because he was brave then” (146-149). Even though Kraft and his crew died as a result of going over the target twice, Yossarian is uncertain about how he ought to feel:He stepped into the briefing room with mixed emotions, uncertain how he was supposed to feel about Kraft and the others, for they had all died in the distance of a mute and secluded agony at a moment when he was up to his own ass in the same vile, excruciating dilemma of duty and damnation. (147)However, when Yossarian witnesses Snowden’s death during the following raid over Avignon, he decides that he wants nothing to do with the war. When Yossarian receives his Distinguished Flying Cross, he arrives at the ceremony rebelliously nude. Colonel Korn asks Captain Wren why Yossarian is naked, and Captain Wren answers, “A man was killed in his plane over Avignon last week and bled all over him. He swears he’s never going to wear a uniform again” (228). By witnessing Snowden’s death, Yossarian realizes that without life, without a soul, “man was matter,” and resolves to live as long as he can (450). But the circular world of Catch-22 is not so easily escaped, and after this first parallel experience, Heller plunges Yossarian back into combat with the raid over Bologna.”By the time of the mission to Bologna, Yossarian was brave enough not to go around over the target even once…” (150). Ironically, Yossarian is ordered to go over Bologna not once, but twice. After faking a defective intercom, Yossarian discovers that Bologna had been a milk run, and when ordered to go over Bologna again, he makes the false assumption that there would be no flak. On the contrary, there is heavy combat and many men in Yossarian’s squadron are killed (156-161). In Catch-22, Heller denies the possibility of conjectures, because one cannot gauge the logical probability of anything in a topsy-turvy world plagued by illogic. Instead, it is when we have no expectations that we allow for room for hope to grow. Of all the characters, Orr is the one Yossarian expects the least out of. He is short, ugly, and stupid, and his plane is shot down on every mission. “Who would protect a warmhearted, simple-minded gnome like Orr from rowdies and cliques and from expert athletes like Appleby who had flies in their eyes and would walk right over him with swaggering conceit and self-assurance every chance they got” (322)? When his plane is shot down for the last time in Bologna, Orr is assumed to have drowned at sea. Then, at the end of the novel, it is revealed that Orr was found, miraculously, on a beach in Sweden. Yossarian cries, “There is hope after all! Can’t you see? Even Clevinger might be alive somewhere in that cloud of his, hiding inside until it’s safe to come out” (459). Heller’s point is not that we should not have expectations at all, but that in times of war and chaos, we must learn to expect the worst. Orr continually expects the worst on every mission — that his plane will be shot down — and he survives every time. During Bologna, Yossarian expects a milk run and is nearly shot down, and Orr expects to be shot down and ends up in neutral Sweden.After Bologna, Yossarian realizes that life is vitally important and that one must always be on the lookout for life-threatening dangers. With these realizations, Yossarian becomes more and more depressed that people are trying to kill him, and his growing sense of powerlessness leads him to use mindlessly exercise power over others. At the start of the novel, Yossarian is in the hospital censoring letters written by the enlisted-men patients, and he alters them for his own amusement. “Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a, an, and the” (16). His disregard for others’ letters comes back to haunt him after his brief affair with Luciana. Yossarian falls in love with her and even asks for her hand in marriage, but when she gives him her contact information he instantly tears it into pieces, symbolically tearing her into pieces (169-173). He did not have to destroy the letters or Luciana’s address, but he did simply because he could. Exercising power over the paper indirectly exercises power over the people who wrote on it, and, in being so indirectly despotic, Yossarian is no better than Milo, Colonel Cathcart, and General Scheisskopf. Unlike them, however, Yossarian eventually realizes “the enormity of his error in tearing her long, lithe, nude, young vibrant limbs into tiny pieces of paper so impudently and dumping her down so smugly into the gutter from the curb” (173). Heller gives Yossarian a conscience, and through trial-and-error, Yossarian learns how to use it. Yossarian begins to understand that the blind exercise of power over others is immoral and that he himself is trapped in a world where his autonomy is subject to the whims of those more powerful.Yossarian’s moral development is given a vague chronology through Heller’s parallel dilemmas. Heller sets up situations in which Yossarian is faced with similar moral dilemmas twice — the first in which he makes the ‘wrong’ decision and the second in which he makes the ‘right’ decision. The chaplain aptly describes this sensation of reaccurance: “Deja vu. The subtle, recurring confusion between illusion and reality that was characteristic of paramnesia” (214). The chaplain sees Yossarian naked in a tree at Snowden’s funeral, but not realizing that it is Yossarian, he assumes it was an apparition. Unable to put his finger on whether it was deja vu, presque vu, or jamais vu, he is thoroughly puzzled (214). Though the chaplain does not realize it, Yossarian as the naked apparition is all three. Yossarian is, in fact, in a constant state of deja vu, because the circular world in which he lives forces him to commit seemingly similar acts over and over again. He is also presque vu because though he realizes that his existence is futile, but he resists against the circularity of his life anyway; whenever he almost escapes, he is sucked back in. Heller draws the world of Catch-22 like an enormous circle, and Yossarian’s life as sets of chords within the circle. In this sense, Yossarian’s life is also jamais vu, because Yossarian’s experiences dissect the circle at two points, like a chord, but they never unravel the circle or break through its path. As such, Yossarian represents linearity within circularity: a yo-yo.Just as the chaplain questions the metaphysics of the naked apparition, Yossarian also learns to question the reality of his world. The soldier in white makes two appearances in Catch-22. When Yossarian encounters the bandaged soldier the first time, he assumes that there is a person beneath the bandages (18). But when the soldier returns and Dunbar declares that he is not real, but “hollow inside, like a chocolate soldier,” Yossarian wonders if Dunbar’s crazed accusation is true (376). “Did anyone see him?” Dunbar asks (377). If nobody saw him, then he cannot be real. Yossarian applies this same logic to Catch-22, when he asks the old woman in Rome: “Didn’t they show it to you?” When she says no, he exclaims, “Oh, God damn! I bet it wasn’t even really there” (418).At the beginning of his novel, all Yossarian wants is to make it out of the war alive, regardless of what happens. He does not care where his bombs fall or who he harms, so long as he escapes the incoming flak. By the close of the novel, Yossarian accepts responsibility for the consequences of his actions. “Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try and break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all” (415-416). Filled with remorse, Yossarian goes on a mission to find Nately’s whore’s kid sister in Rome with Milo, but loses hope when Milo chooses to pursue illegal tobacco instead of the girl (421). In Rome, Yossarian witnesses instance upon instance of people abusing their powers to harm others, culminating with Aarfy senselessly raping and murdering an innocent girl (427-428). Yossarian finally grasps that it is never justifiable to use other people as a means to an end, not even if to benefit oneself. Heller draws the novel to a close with one final moral dilemma: will Yossarian choose to be court-martialed or will he allow himself to be sent home at the price of publicly validating a war that has killed so many people (434-437)? Either way, Yossarian knows he cannot break free of the circular power structure he is confined within. If he chooses to be court-martialed, he will not have the “odious” act of validating the war on his conscience, but he will be used as an example by the military to dissuade other enlisted men from refusing to fight. Yossarian laments, “Between me and every ideal I always find Scheisskopfts, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal” (455). He decides to be sent home and tells Major Danby that he wants to think only of himself. But he pauses, saying, “You know, I have a queer feeling that I’ve been through this exact conversation before with someone else. It’s just like the chaplain’s sensation of having experienced everything twice” (456).Heller never misses an opportunity to be ironic, for at this point Yossarian’s development at last comes full circle. Yossarian learns that Orr was found in Sweden and that there is hope in the world. He knows that he cannot use other people to benefit himself. He realizes that he does not want to exist within the confines of a ruthless power structure bent on destroying him. Risking his own life, Yossarian decides to flee Catch-22 instead of existing under its tyrannical tenets. So he jumps (463).

The Portrayal of Capitalism and Free Enterprise in Catch-22

Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22 not only in order to make a statement about the absurdity of war, but also to illustrate the absurdity of the human condition itself. Through its style, language, and characters, Catch-22 vividly depicts the absurdity of life using World War II as its medium. One of Heller’s most significant parodies is that of capitalism and free enterprise, which he embodies in the character of Milo Minderbinder.The reader is first introduced to Milo in chapter 2 of the novel, where he is described as the most incredible mess officer ever, providing a luxurious dining experience complete with Italian waiters, tablecloths, and a lunch consisting of shish-kabob and asparagus tips followed by cherries jubilee, coffee, Benedictine, and brandy. Milo is mentioned again briefly in chapter 3 during the Great Big Siege of Bologna, when it is said that he had bombed the squadron. Already the reader has a taste for the absurdity to come with this character, such as, “Why did Milo bomb his own soldiers?”It is in chapter 7 where the reader gets a first glimpse at the madness behind Milo. Milo admires Yossarian for a letter Yossarian persuaded Doc Daneeka to give him. It says that Yossarian can have all of the fruit he wants (due to his liver condition which he feigns having). Milo is horrified, however, to learn that Yossarian simply gives the fruit away. Giving violates Milo’s most basic principle- extort as much as you can. He hopes to make tremendous profits from the black market syndicate he is establishing. As Milo explains his ideas (which are heavily intricate, not to mention convoluted), he tears up a bedsheet that was originally stolen from McWatt. To Milo, it’s a symbol of business, but to McWatt and Yossarian (and probably the reader), it’s just a torn sheet. Milo’s reasoning in this episode clearly illustrates Heller’s distrust in the power and complexity of capitalism, and he shows this through Milo’s absurd rationale. Also, Heller writes in this chapter, “They were like Milo’s disunited eyes, which never looked at the same thing at the same time. Milo could see more things than most people, but he could see none of them too distinctly.” All of this suggests that Milo could think of various economically profitable schemes that most people can’t, yet he fails to see what is truly important in life.In chapter 13, Milo is given the position of mess officer by Major ___de Coverly in exchange for fresh eggs and butter. De Coverly also grants Milo planes to go to Malta and Sicily for the food. Many other squadrons soon make the same deal, and Milo operates daily shuttles to procure everything from artichokes to lobster tails. Milo is made out to be a modern-day sleazebag/businessman. He is quickly making his way to the top through manipulation and he doesn’t care whom he hurts along the way. He is also obsessed with making profits and is constantly thinking about money. This is Heller’s warning, that if we don’t do something soon, to change “the system,” we will all end up like profit-hungry Milo.In chapter 22, Milo humorously reveals how his private empire has spread. Orr and Yossarian give up trying to grasp the intricacies of Milo’s business, meanwhile learning that grateful civilians have named him everything from city mayor to assistant governor. Thus, Heller is not only parodying the complexity of what Milo is doing (because it is so convoluted that nobody understands anything he is doing), but he is also showing the close and potentially harmful relationship between governmental positions and profit. Milo goes on to claim that “everybody has a share.” Later on, when Milo writes the word “share” on a piece of paper, the reader not only sees the absurdity of what Milo is pulling off, but also the absurdity of everyone around him falling for it. Also, Milo sums up his beliefs in one line- “…what’s good for the syndicate is good for the country.” So here we see that the satire includes the industrial and financial domains as well as the military.Chapter 24 serves to illustrate more of Milo’s power. He can get an uncooperative officer transferred and can even lure enemy planes and officers into his syndicate. The growth of his business through the war heavily parallels empires of the past and multinational businesses of today. Heller’s message- businesses can fall just as easily as the empires once did. Later in the chapter, we learn of various international contracts Milo has made including a contract with the Germans to bomb his own base which offsets his losses on Egyptian cotton. He gets away with maiming and killing Americans because he makes such a huge profit; the absurdity is disturbing. What Milo is doing is very similar to arms manufacturers who sell to both sides in a conflict.Later in this chapter, the reader is exposed to symbolism that points to Milo being evil. After Snowden dies, Yossarian takes off his uniform (because he hates what it symbolizes) and walks around naked. During Snowden’s funeral, Yossarian stays in a nearby tree. Milo comes to Yossarian, mourning only his loss on cotton. He claims that the only way to offset this loss is for the squadron to eat the cotton, and he practically begs Yossarian to eat this chocolate-covered cotton that he has created. The scene is strikingly similar to Adam and Eve, with Milo being the evil serpent tempting Yossarian to eat the cotton. Heller is now saying that capitalism and its ways are not only convoluted and money-driving, but it is also evil and immoral.By chapter 35, Milo’s trade goods have expanded and now include artifacts of Western culture from the “Piltdown man” (which doesn’t even really exist) to “Cedars from Lebanon.” His slogan has shifted from “everyone has a share” to “what’s fair is fair.” So he has truly shifted from sugar-coating his position, to pessimistically justifying his position. Heller is obviously cynical about the future of capitalism and large businesses; they might in the end use Machiavellian practices and beliefs- “The end justifies the means.”Milo Minderbinder builds his empire himself. Just as his eyes do not focus properly, so his mind cannot take in any other value than profit. Everything he does is designed to enhance his profitable black-market syndicate. He draws group after group into his plan by doubletalk, flattery, or blackmail. Milo operates entirely on his own, twisting the military system to his purposes. Nothing stops Milo, and Milo is the character through which Heller makes his satire on capitalism, free enterprise, and immoral international business practices. It is through Milo’s absurdity that the absurdity of the industrial and financial situation in this country can be seen.

Individual and Collective interest in Politics

In Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, the people in the places of leadership manipulate the ordinary citizens for their own gain. In the wartime environment, basic common sense is sacrificed for the benefit and personal gain of people in power. Major Cathcart continually chases his desperate yet futile end goal of promotion, to the cost of the men in his squadron, ordinary civilians and even the progression of the war effort. Heller provides a cynical portrayal of war, one where the ultimate arbitrary nature of leadership positions is exploited, becoming the ultimate goal of the powerful instead of the good of soldiers and civilians. In Shakespeare’s play Henry IV part 1, the King is portrayed as a Machiavellian leader, while the prince’s connection with the people show a more empathetic and inclusive style of leadership, although it is revealed to be part of a ploy to manipulate others in order to become a better leader. Even Prince Hal, it seems, is unable to rule innocently, and in this portrayal, Shakespeare challenges the idea of the divine right of leadership. it establishes the dramatic irony of Harry’s character, known to no one but the audience and the prince himself. It also exposes the complexities and ambiguities of Harry’s mind, showing an apparently virtuous young man who can manipulate and lie to others to achieve his somewhat selfish, albeit important, goals.

Yossarian and Falstaff are both anti-heroes who challenge the manipulation of the ordinary people by leaders who exploit their power for selfish gain. The very nature of Catch-22 embodies the inefficiency of the government and the fact that people are no longer treated as individuals. It is ultimately revealed that the catch represents the justification of any action taken by men in positions of power, without fear of punishment, as they ‘have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.’ In his refusal to fly any more combat missions, Yossarian is ‘rocking the boat’, speaking out against the manipulation of leaders and the injustice of war and regaining a semblance of independence. Thus his actions are ultimately one of independence and courage rather than cowardice as it is portrayed by the military who have no patience for people who do not do as they are expected. The ridiculousness and inefficiency of the military in protecting justice and its citizens is further exemplified in the pointless mission to bomb a civilian village in order to create a roadblock, which will ultimately make little difference to the war effort but will destroy the lives of many innocents. The absurdity of this situation is further highlighted in the Colonel’s insistence of a neat bomb pattern; an entirely fabricated notion which only serves to highlight the absolute power of General Peckam, who enjoys exploiting his power for personal gain and enjoyment. Heller satirizes military logic once more, this time regarding a raid on a small Italian village to create a roadblock. The villagers pose no threat and are all civilians, but the village will be reduced to rubble which will be cleared in a couple of days anyway. The raid would be more efficient if the bombs were spread out along the hills, away from the village, blocking more of the road; but that will not do. Colonel Cathcart, always trying to impress General Peckem, calls for a tight bomb pattern “for me, for your country, for God, and for that great American, General P. P. Peckem.”

In Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, an outdated system of rule and ideals of nobility are put into question by critiquing the effectiveness of a Machiavellian style leadership under the chaotic backdrop of rebellion. The commonwealth’s disillusionment with the existing manipulative monarchical system is made clear in Falstaff’s diatribe on honor, which highlights that the idea of honor only benefits people in positions of power. The metaphor ‘honour pricks me on’ creates a violent image which highlights the harmful implications of relying on such an outdated notion. The personification of honor, which ‘pricks him on’ creates imagery of violence which perfectly mirrors Falstaff’s pragmatic view that honor often compels people to do more harm than good. Falstaff therefore concludes that honor is worthless, “a mere scutcheon,” and that he wants nothing to do with it. In a play obsessed with the idea of honor, this speech comes out of nowhere to call into question the entire set of moral values on which most of the characters base their lives. It is one of the remarkable aspects of Falstaff’s character that he is able to live so far outside the normal mores and expectations of his society; this speech epitomizes Falstaff’s independent streak. And highlights the inadequacy of the monarchy, which relies on notions of honor to justify the morality of their actions. This is supported when it becomes evident that everyone, even Hal, are scheming for power. Even those reluctant for power must scheme in order to become a leader. Hon our is merely a disguise, created to justify the scheming actions of leaders though arguing that it benefits all. This is very well mirrored in Yossarian’s belief in the futility of war and the injustice of a country which does not care for its individuals; the war-time equivalent of honor, that the war is benefiting all, is harmful to individuals. Falstaff is not merely a shameful opportunist, but a pragmatist with eerily relatable truths.

Hal’s meeting with his father in the setting of the cold and austere court, a dramatic contrast to the warmth and vitality of the tavern, highlights how Machiavellian notions of power and ambition can conflict with morality. Shakespeare provides incisive insight into contrasting notions of power; Hal’s ideal of leadership is a man who understands and empathizes with the commoners, juxtaposed with Henry’s belief that by minimizing contact with the common people he can maintain his carefully constructed aura of respect and mystery. Continuing the celestial motif in ‘Sunlike majesty, when it seldom in admiring eyes,’ Henry accentuates that an air of mystery is essential to command the respect a King requires. He describes Richard II’s constant presence as being ‘soon kindled and soon burnt’, a metaphor which powerfully serves as a reminder that Hal is the direct antithesis of the King’s ideal of leadership. Originally the King was acting for the collective interest as he thought he would be able to lead England better, but gradually lost sight of his duty to his people as he became blinded with power. The audience is afforded a glimpse into the king’s private sphere and an insight into the strained relationship between the King and the Prince, which highlights the king’s insecurities about the legitimacy of his rule, which he typically keeps hidden from the rest of his court through a carefully constructed image which he manipulates. Through his portrayal of Hal as a man who has initially lost his father’s respect and fallen from grace, though ultimately redeemed through his actions, Shakespeare comments that the merit and virtues of a leader are more powerful than the idea of a divine chain of being. However, even Prince Hal is not immune to the selfish scheming and manipulation required to succeed in court. In his soliloquy Hal reveals his clandestine manipulation of the commonwealth in order to improve his image and gain respect when he finally succeeds his father. ‘Yet herein will I imitate the sun // who doth permit the base contagious clouds // By breaking through the foul and ugly mists // Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. Hal never wanted to be king ‘pay the debt I never promiséd’, but he still realizes the importance of manipulation is securing power, which highlights the unfair treatment of the commonwealth, who are only expendable pawns in a much bigger game. The recurring motif of the robes symbolize leadership as something which can be cast off or put on: links to appearance vs. reality. The transformation of Hal from wastrel to “so sweet a hope” for England revolves around his acceptance of royal duties and a touch with the commoners of the tavern. In Machiavellian fashion, Hal realizes that future kings will need to have the support of the populace, who believes in the humanity of their leaders rather than a divine right of rule. Shakespeare explores this to emphasize the shifting political dynamics of the Elizabethan era and new ideas about power and the divine right of rule. Both Hal and his father realise they need to challenge existing paradigms of leadership expectations to develop a rapport with the people who will support them as king. Hal does not reject his father’s ideology or refuse to engage with him, but schemes in his own way. In mankind’s interminable struggle for power, the motivations of certain individuals may be unclear as they attempt to manipulate people for political advantage. What is clear, however, is that control and lasting influence are the ultimate goals in the dangerous game of politics.

By exploring the tension between the individual and the collective interest, Keller criticizes the purpose of war and the consequences of selfish leadership in Catch 22. Through a recurring theme of irrational logic, when only considering actions from the public sphere, individual sacrifices and consequences seem irrelevant if it ultimately benefits the collective. ‘Imagine a man his age risking what little life he has left for something so absurd as a country!’ This rhetorical question from Nately’s Old Man, whilst initially seeming outlandish, is ultimately filled with truth and critiques the irrationality of war. His claim to his rights as an individual highlights the ludicrousness of forced submission upon consideration of the individual’s perspective, showing how soldiers and civilians alike suffer from society’s forced imposition of the war for the ‘supposed’ greater good. By juxtaposing the benefits and consequences of war both from a collective and individual viewpoint, Keller challenges the impossibility of society in recognizing individuality, while still making collective decisions which will benefit society as a whole, suggesting the political implications of nationalism coexisting with democracy. Yossarian, symbolizing the self-preserving pragmatist, vows to survive at all costs, seeing the ultimate fragility of life being highlighted by war. ‘It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead’. However, Clevinger, an idealist who only cares for victory, explores the institutional viewpoint that people give up their identity and their duty for their own survival when they become soldiers, by repeatedly insisting that they had ‘no right to question’ their orders. This highlights the humanist ideology that man in ‘programmed’ with natural survival instincts, through which an attempt at overwriting through a culture of courage and selflessness is generally unsuccessful. of Nevertheless, whilst self-sacrificing nobility is an image aspired to by many, self-preserving cowardice is ultimately the more universal, though admittedly hidden perspective, and, perhaps, the more logical viewpoint in war. Paradox: the weakest nations survive: pragmatism over honour. “There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.” Yossarian’s friends are dying because Colonel Cathcart keeps changing the definition of a tour of duty. The numbers are abstract, but the deaths are real. The author’s passionate indignation reveals horror and corruption and sometimes tragedy as well as comedy. Reinforces that wartime is the ultimate breakdown of logic and integrity. Thus, Heller reinforces that lying and the manipulation of words is immoral, but ultimately supports individual gain, mirroring how in politics, efficiency is sacrificed for an easily manipulated image.

Through manipulating the portrayal of the world around them, Shakespeare and Heller influence their audience’s perceptions on political systems and events. Shakespeare juxtaposes methods of leadership to highlight the prevalence of manipulation in the political sphere in King Henry IV, while Heller’s anti-war novel Catch-22 emphasizes the struggles of reconciling collective and individual interest by exploring the manipulation of words and image.

War as Tragically Absurd: Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five

The concept of war is both gruesomely tragic, and deeply absurd. Through their respective texts, Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five, authors Joseph Heller and George Roy Hill capture the very essence of war, and it’s tragic absurdity, though employing a range of stylistic techniques intended to engage, humour and shock the audience. Within Catch-22, Heller explores not only the inevitable doom of soldiers within WWII, but the absurdity with which their lives came to an end, and to a greater extent conveys his concerns about the practice of warfare in contemporary society. Heller achieves this through employing a range of techniques, including irony and satire, characterization, motifs, symbolism and paradox. In contrast, whilst Hill’s film Slaughterhouse-Five also explores the horrors and pointlessness of WWII, it also introduces the concept of alien intervention and time travel, which gives the film an unsettling and absurd quality. Through the use of film techniques such as characterization, diegetic sound, camera angles, mise en scene and editing, Hill too expresses his concerns regarding war within today’s society, and highlights the pointlessness of hostile societal groups. Through the employment of stylistic features including irony, by Heller, and diegetic sound by Hill, both authors are able to convey the absolute absurdity of war.

Irony is certainly introduced by Heller when the possessions of a deceased, unnamed soldier are found in Yossarian’s room, and Maj. Major Major comes to the conclusion that the person who had the right to remove his belongings […] was Yossarian himself, and Yossarian, it seemed […], had no right. This use of irony not only highlights the senselessness of the militaristic bureaucracy, and the absurd nature of war, but also the tragedy of so many soldiers pointlessly killed, going unrecognized. Contrastingly, Hill employs diegetic sound to convey his idea of tragic absurdity within war, most prominently in a scene depicting a band of English soldiers singing Hail, Hail the yanks are here amid the setting of a German prisoner of war camp. The jovial nature of this music in the presence of such a grim and tragic situation emphasizes the absurdity of the concept of war, and elicits both humor and empathy for the soldiers in the camp. Indeed, through the utilization of irony and diegetic sound respectively, both Heller and Hill are able to express their concerns regarding the tragically absurd nature of war.

The use of characteristic by both Heller and Hill is also another feature utilized to convey the idea that war is tragically absurd. Heller’s satirical characterization of anti-heroic protagonist John Yossarian, who exhibits intense paranoia and obsession with his mortality, [deciding] to live forever or die in the attempt…, is largely reflective of the viewpoint of veterans post war. Through the voice of Yossarian, Heller conveys the tragic mindset of disillusioned soldiers who have returned home, and express his idea that the act of war is both pointlessness and absurd. Hill’s cowardly protagonist Billy Pilgrim, however, greatly contrasts Heller’s Yossarian, as rather than be determined to live, he is passive and accepts the inevitability of death. Hill’s depiction of the absurdity of war is particularly evident through the characterization of Billy in a flashback to his childhood, when he is told by his father that this is it Billy, you either sink or swim, to which Billy does not respond. Through Pilgrim’s characterization, the viewer is introduced to the concept of nihilism, or the belief that existence is meaningless, which highlights the tragic absurdity of the events Billy endures in the war. Clearly, through the employment of characterization, both Heller and Hill explore both the mercilessness and absurdity found within the midst of war.

Furthermore, Heller and Hill employ the stylistic techniques of motif and camera shots to express their ideas concerning war, and it’s tragic and absurd nature. The ever increasing number of missions required by soldiers in order retire is one such motif that explores the concept of absurdity within war. As Yossarian explains, Colonel Cathcart requires men to stay at the base until he doesn’t have enough men [for] crews, and then raises the number of missions and [puts them] on combat status, despite the fact that the Air Force only requires them to complete forty missions. The tragically ironic idea that if the men disobey Cathcart’s orders, they will be court martialed, but if they attempt them they face certain death, is essentially a catch- 22, and highlights not only the absurd nature of the act of war, but the senselessness of bureaucracy. In contrast, Hill employs camera shots and angles to explore the tragic absurdity of war which affects so many lives. During the scene in which Pilgrim is being prepped for surgery, a high angle shot of Pilgrim on his bed is utilised by Hill to convey the vulnerability that Billy has been made susceptible to following the horrors of war. The bizarre quality of the shot also encapsulates the absurdity of the Second World War, and the profoundly detrimental and tragic impact it had on both the soldiers and civilians who endured it.

Certainly, both Heller and Hill’s use of motif, and camera shots and angles respectively, allows each author to convey their concerns regarding the devastating and obscure impact of war.Heller and Hill also employ the techniques of symbolism and mise en scene to convey the idea that the absurd act of war only ends in tragedy. Heller introduces the presence of the soldier in white, a soldier covered completely in bandages, as a symbol for the anonymity of death within war, highlighted but the idea that all they they really saw of the soldier was a frayed black hole over the mouth. The concept that no one is aware of the identity of the soldier in white, and that later within the novel he is replaced by another soldier in white, is symbolic of the tragedy with which war not only dehumanizes victims, but allows human beings to become expendable in the name of a political agenda. In an alternate way, Hill employs the technique of mise en scene to convey his ideas surrounding the absurdity of war and life’s ultimate meaningless. In a long shot depicting Pilgrim captured following the Battle of the Bulge and transferred to a holding facility, dark, overcast lighting and smoke rising from distant fires is used to convey the absolute destruction of war. The dark, earthy greens and browns emphasize the hellish conditions of war, and the inclusion of harsh, metal vehicles and indistinguishable bodies of soldiers and civilians adds an element of dehumanization and the intended meaningless of their lives. This concept not only encompasses the tragedy of war, but highlights its absurd and meaningless nature.

Through the employment of symbolism and mise en scene within their respective texts, both Heller and Hill expertly convey their ideas regarding the harsh and tragic mercilessness of war, and the absurdity of such an act.The employment of stylistic features such as symbolism by Heller, and and camera angle and shots by Hill expertly conveys, within their respective texts, the tragic absurdity of war. Symbolism is employed by Heller to convey the inability for the military to recognize the corruption within itself, and the absurdity of this negligence. Chocolate covered cotton balls are a symbol that highlight the corruption that resides within the military, and its detrimental effect to soldiers, as although they hold no nutritional value, they are forced to be eaten by chef Milo Minderbinder in order to cut the budget. “They’ve got to swallow it,” Milo ordained with dictatorial grandeur highlights how the greed surrounding the act of war blinds those caught within it, and the tragically absurd mindset it corrupts them with. In contrast, Hill’s utilization of a close up low angle shot of Pilgrim splattered with another man’s blood during the harsh winter of Dresden in the Second World War expresses the cruel tragedy of war. The camera has been focused on the blood, slightly blurring Pilgrim’s face to symbolize the anonymity of soldiers in war, but also the pointlessness of killing strangers in a war setting, and risking one’s own life to do so.

Certainly, through stylistic techniques such as symbolism, and camera angles and shots, Heller and Hill in their respective texts, Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five, brilliantly convey their concerns regarding the act of war, and it’s tragic senselessness. Heller and Hill’s employment of both a wide range of paradoxes and mise en scene further conveys their idea that war is tragically absurd. Most prominently, the absurdity of war is emphasized through Heller’s employment of the paradoxical catch-22 that Dunbar loved skeet shooting because he hated every minute of it and time passed so slowly. This paradox conveys the tragedy of warfare through humor, as Dumbar wishes to prolong his life through boredom, but also highlights it’s illogicality, as the statement contradicts itself. Hill, in contrast, employs mise en scene in the setting on the planet of Tralfamadore, where Pilgrim resides at the end of his life, to directly juxtapose the image of war. The colorful lighting such as blues, pinks, yellows and whites in the sky suggests a place of comfort and refuge, introducing an almost nonsensical quality to the film given the previous scene’s harsh setting. The abstract architecture of the house, a dome constructed from steel and glass triangles, further emphasizes the absurd aspect of the film, as does the random arrangement of furniture within the house, highlighting the tragic effect war has had on Billy’s mind. Clearly, Heller’s use of paradox, as well as Hill’s use of mise en scene, skillfully encapsulates the concerns of the two authors regarding the tragic circumstance of war, and the absurdity surrounding it.

Furthermore, the employment of motif, by Heller, and narrative structure and editing, by Hill, convey the absolute devastation that war can cause. The motif of Catch-22, a paradoxical situation which is made inescapable by equally opposing conditions, is arguably the most effective technique employed by Heller to convey the absurd and tragically cruel nature of war, best exemplified in the statement that Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and when he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. This motif highlights the satirical anti-war message Heller intends to convey to his readers, the tragedy surrounding the character’s fate and the unquestionable absurdity of war. Contrastingly, Hill employs the stylistic feature narrative structure to convey his ideas surrounding the tragic absurdity of war. A main feature of the film is that Pilgrim has become ‘unstuck’ in time, and jumps between non-chronological and oddly parallel events in his life. One such example occurs in the scene where a German propaganda officer takes photos of him, with Hill employing the technique of cutting from this scene, to his wedding photo shoot, repetitively. These cuts are frequent and unexpected, emphasizing the overall absurd quality of the film, eliciting sympathy for Pilgrim’s tragic circumstance as he can never let go of the events of the war, something that all veterans must live with.

Through stylistic techniques such as motif in Catch-22, and editing and narrative structure in Slaughterhouse-Five, respective authors Heller and Hill certainly convey their message that war is undoubtedly tragic, and deeply absurd. Through their respective texts, Joseph Heller and George Roy Hill expertly project their concerns regarding the absolute absurdity of the act of war, and the tragic and absolute consequences it has on humanity, directly or indirectly. Through the use of conventional stylistic techniques such as irony and satire, characterization, motifs, symbolism and paradox within Heller’s Catch-22, and characterisation, diegetic sound, camera angles, mise en scene and editing employed by Hill in Slaughterhouse-Five, these authors explore the ways in which the act of war is both laughably pointless, causing nothing but absolute destruction in people’s lives, but also the tragedy surrounding the dehumanization of those involved, and the devastation it leaves in so many lives, even centuries later.

Love, Lust, Hatred: Is It All the Same in Catch-22?

During war, men and woman are swept by emotions that make it difficult to overlook their experiences in war. Jack Croasdile, a prisoner of war, drew under his captivity in 1941 by the Germans a picture titled Anticipating 1942. Featured in the picture, he and his deceased wife are covered by a shadow with their heads rested on one another and their backs turned to the picture, the figures gazing down into the fireside. His illustration represents his own piece of heaven in a grotesque war where he feels the warmth and love of his sweetheart; like many other soldiers, he yearns for love in the war. In war, men and women are riddled with the fear of dying, of being alone, forgotten, and take solace in bedding with a stranger in order to release bottled-up emotions to reach a brief moment of peace. These individuals try to keep their minds sound with sex and some pretend or delude themselves to fall in love. The emotions felt during war can be narrowed down on to a spectrum: lust will be to the far left, love will be in the middle at equilibrium, and hatred will be to the far right. The love spectrum, as it will be referred to, defines love as a bond between a man and woman transcending sexual needs and emotional validation.

In Catch- 22, Joseph Heller exposes the emotions felt by both men and women in relationships during war that all have a place on the love spectrum helping to overall determine where the lines stand in war when it comes to lust, love, and hatred. At the far left side of the love spectrum resides Yossarian and his relationships with Luciana and Nurse Duckett. Yossarian believes with each sexual encounter he has, he will find a kind of inner peace. Yossarian can be compared to a drug addict. When he finds a woman who will have sex with him, he explodes into ecstasy and then plummets into depression. Yossarian has never felt love for any woman. Like so many other young men in the army, he searches for women in the name of sex.

During his visit to Rome, Yossarian meets Luciana. She playfully coos to him throughout their evening together, “All right, I’ll dance with you… But I won’t let you sleep with me” (153). Because Luciana plays on his lustful desires, he deludes himself to fall in love with her. Yossarian had the brief moment of sereneness he feels after sex and because he was able to release his feelings and almost make them impalpable, he impulsively wants to always have that impalpability and decides to marry Luciana. This is the ecstasy he feels after sex. Luciana rejects him and leaves him and he doesn’t care until “all at once he was surrounded by images of Luciana getting out of her clothes and into her clothes and caressing and haranguing him tempestuously in the pink rayon chemise she wore in bed with him and would never take off” (163). He sinks into depression after Luciana leaves him and misses her terribly. Yet, the same can be said to happen to him when he encounters Nurse Duckett afterwards. As Yossarian lies next to her on the beach, the author unmasks Yossarian’s feelings: “he [draws] solace and sedation from her nearness. He [has] a craving to touch her always, to remain always in physical communication” (335) and then author goes on to the next page to state, “evenings when Yossarian felt horny he brought Nurse Duckett to the beach with two blankets and enjoyed making love to her more than he sometimes enjoyed making love to all the vigorous bare amoral girls in Rome” (336). The author mocks Yossarian’s lust for women. He uses sexual language and describes Yossarian fornication with other women as an act of love making. Nurse Duckett like Luciana is another drug for Yossarian. When he is near her, he feels safe and succumbs to the extreme high he loves. But when she dumps him, and when Yossarian returns to Rome, Yossarian again plunges into depression at losing Nurse Duckett: “Despair gnawed at him. Visions beset him. He wanted Nurse Duckett with her dress up and her slim thighs bare to the hips” (351). Yossarian has extreme highs and lows when it comes to love. He creates instability in his life placing him to the far left because until he learns to be with a woman to nurture a relationship, he will always search for sex. Even so, Yossarian is hopeless when it comes to women, but he enjoys the idea of falling in love because it is the only comfort he can afford to dream about in a desolate place where he knows everyone wants to kill him.

Another relationship leaning towards the lust side of the love spectrum is Chaplain and his wife. The Chaplain writes letters to his wife in order to maintain a bond with her. Many men in the war do this in order to remind themselves of what their fighting for: the lover they left at home. “The chaplain loved his wife and children with such tameless intensity that he often wanted to sink to the ground helplessly and weep like a castaway cripple” (271): some may consider this groveling for one’s loved ones a sure sign of devotion, and yet one must consider what type of characteristics Chaplain possesses. Chaplain is a weak-hearted man who never asserts himself and hides in order to avoid any confrontation from his superiors. Chaplain grovels only for self- pity. Chaplain’s love for his wife can be disproved by his irrational fear he has of his wife being “raped and murdered repeatedly as soon as [a man drives] her off to a deserted sandpit” (271). Most men in the war dream, like the prisoner of war, Jack Croasdile, of being at home with their wives; however, Chaplain rather dream of his wife being raped and killed. Chaplain’s reveries cannot be disputed as a concern for his wife because they signify a repressed longing to get rid of the reason why he is fighting in the war. Chaplain selfish reveries do not cease. The lust aspect of Chaplain oozes through when he dreams of the inevitable “reunions with [his wife] that [end] in explicit acts of love-making” (271). Chaplain not only sickly dreams of his wife being ravaged by other men but dreams of her being ravaged by him. Never does the Chaplain dream being at home with his wife whispering “I love you” as if it were the last words he could ever tell her. Instead, Chaplain becomes insecure about the love he has for his wife and doubts the love she harbors for him. He wonders, “There [are] so many other men… who could prove more satisfying to her sexually” (377). This type of insecurity has no place in real love. When two people love each other, they know they will always be faithful to the other, thus the transcending of physical validation. The fact that Chaplain doubts his wife’s faithfulness shows and feels she only wants to be pleasured shows he thinks love is based only on sex.

Nearing equilibrium, but still in the lust area of the love spectrum is Nately and the love he feels for his whore. Their whole relationship mocks the idea of first love. Nately has never fallen in love and decides to fall head over heels for a whore when he could have another woman. Affluent Nately wins this covetous whore’s love almost like a fairy tale, but instead of winning her love by true love’s first kiss, he wins it by letting her sleep. But why does Nately fall so desperately in love with her? Why does“[he try so earnestly to] capture the attention of the bored, phlegmatic girl he ha[s] fallen so intensely in love with and [try to] win her admiration forever” (244)? She is Nately’s first love and he is hers. The truth is young people always fall the hardest for their first loves, just look at Romeo and Juliet. Nately tries hard to gain her affection because he feels he needs her to validate him in order to make him feel complete as a man. His need for validation sets them close to reaching equilibrium in the love spectrum because she returns his love. When she finally acquires “a good night’s sleep”, she beckons Nately into her bed: “The girl smiled with contentment when she opened her eyes and saw him, and then, stretching her long legs languorously beneath the rustling sheets, beckoned him into bed beside her with that look of simpering idiocy of a woman in heat” (356). Although it is superficial that a good’s night sleep pushed her to return his love, it should be considered love nonetheless. Overall, the love created here was proliferated by sex and yet was developed over time. Love is not spontaneous; it takes time to grow and to develop into a meaningful bond which Nately’s whore proves happened when she goes berserk after swallowing the news of Nately’s death: “when [Yossarian] broke the news to Nately’s whore in Rome she uttered a piercing heartbroken shriek and tried to stab him to death with a potato peeler” (392). If Nately had not died, the love the two started to grow could have actually become real love, but considering the love blossomed sexually and barely bloomed emotionally, they will admittedly be determined as something close to love.

After lust, the descent towards hatred takes a sharp right to arrive at extreme hatred exemplified by Aarfy because not only does he rape and murder an innocent woman, he admits to coercing multiple women to have sex with him and he takes advantage of women he deems worthless and weak. In Aarfy’s case, it would be appropriate to isolate him and refrain from identifying him in a relationship with any woman. Aarfy’s slogan is “nobody has to pay for it for good old Aarfy. I can get all I want any time I want. I’m just not in the mood right now” (241). Aarfy is a troubled man. Aarfy enjoys having sex with women he deems unworthy of other men. Aarfy is a bully and like a bully he feels unloved and takes his anger out on women by making them feel unloved. He represents the men in war who cannot feel love because the atrocities of war deem them unlovable. The more a man kills, the more a man lives in misery, the more a man sees less and less of human kindness, the more a man will hate himself and hate everyone else. Even Aarfy’s notion of love proves he knows little of love as the author explains: “Aarfy was the authority on the subject of true love because he had already fallen truly in love with Nately’s father and with prospect of working for him after the war in some executive capacity as a reward for befriending Nately” (288). Aarfy loves money because he believes it will buy him happiness, but even when Aarfy pursues women who are rich, he is displeased with them. Aarfy enjoys ravishing women who remind him that he is filthy and spiteful: “She had sallow skin and myopic eyes, and none of the men had ever slept with her because none of the men had ever wanted, none but Aarfy, who had raped her once that same evening and had then held her prisoner until the civilian curfew sirens sounded and it was unlawful for her to be outside. Then he threw her out the window” (417). He killed her because he thought she deserved to die, much like how he believes he deserves to die. Aarfy hates life because each time he flies, he leads the men into enemy fire which could be his attempt at redemption by dying in war. Aarfy hates himself and hates the people he tries to love. Therefore, he pretends to love himself on the surface and look out for the well- being of good girls. He is the demoralized soldier who no longer cares about right or wrong, he does what he wants to because he can and doesn’t know what else to do. Since he cannot love himself, no one can therefore love him. War has morphed him into a beast that devours the lives of the innocent and pure in order to validate his own worth.

Next, near the far right of the love spectrum, the analysis of the relationship between Doc Daneeka and Mrs. Daneeka must be examined. Doc Daneeka and Mrs. Daneeka are a relationship turned sideways due to miscommunication, but it leaves the reader wondering if Mrs. Daneeka left Doc Daneeka in the dust on purpose in order to cash in on his insurance policies. At any rate, Mrs. Daneeka can be justified as loving her husband and therefore the relationship they share can be set somewhere near love and near hate because she betrayed Doc Daneeka by deserting him in his time of need. Mrs. Daneeka after learning her husband had died mourns over him and “split[s] the peace of the peaceful Staten Island night with woeful shrieks of lamentation” (341). Mrs. Daneeka has the appropriate response every wife should have when learning her husband has died on the line of duty. She plays a convincing role of mourning wife until her husband sends word he is not dead and she refuses to believe him: “the style [of the letter] resembled her husband’s and the melancholy, self-pitying tone was familiar, although more dreary than usual” (342). She knew her intuition was saying he was alive and was ready to take action to save him until she received payment s from her husband’s insurance claims. Mrs. Daneeka embodies the stereotypical materialistic woman during war who wants to buys fancy garments. When she became affluent and popular that “the husbands of her closest friends began to flirt with her. [She] was delighted with the way things were turning out and had her hair dyed” (343). Perhaps Heller was saying we tend to marry people who are exactly like us or that love could never trump money? Or perhaps he is saying woman will gladly desert their men for money? In this case, Mrs. Daneeka greedily appears to be cashing in on her husband’s misery when Doc Daneeka belabored to her through letters he was still alive, “it was indeed he, her husband, Doc Daneeka who was pleading with her, and not a corpse or some impostor” (344). This is why their relationship is on the right side of the love spectrum because she may have loved him at the beginning, but she stopped loving him at the end. She deserted her husband in his time of need for money. If the purest love is devotion, then the most corrupt love is desertion. The love they had was one that could not defy the boundaries of war or money, and left Mrs. Daneeka rich and her greedy husband alone and forgotten. Next, the right of the love spectrum approaches two relationships where the women are considered sex objects and are neglected; however, to distort any confusion, even though Yossarian and Chaplain considered women sex objects as well, they treated their women with some level of dignity.

To resume, the first relationship is that between Lieutenant Scheisskopf and his wife. If there ever was love between them, their love faded because of war. Lieutenant Scheisskopf fell in love with his parades and his wife fell in love with her husband’s men. Lieutenant Scheisskopf is a war fanatic and workaholic. He lives and breathes parades because perhaps like sports he doesn’t have to think or feel anything, he just has to instinctively do. The author describes Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s feelings about his wife: “It was the despair of Lieutenant Scheisskopf life to be chained to a woman who was incapable of looking beyond her own dirty, sexual desires to the titanic struggles for the unattainable in which noble man could become heroically engaged” (73). Lieutenant Scheisskopf represents the men who feel they can win their wife’s love and admiration by gaining recognition and influence from a higher power: i.e. government, church, corporations. Unfortunately for Lieutenant Scheisskopf, he and his wife do not see on eye to eye. His wife feels burdened with a sexually repressed husband because says: “My husband has a whole squadron full of aviation cadets who would be only too happy to shack up with their commanding officer’s wife just for the added fillip it would give them” (178). Lieutenant Scheisskopf‘s wife embodies the image of the neglected wife who has to look for attention from her husband in the form of bad behavior. She stoops to acting like she is a sex object to which Lieutenant Scheisskopf can take advantage of. Her efforts are futile because her cry out for attention make Lieutenant Scheisskopf sink himself deeper into his work. The two represent love dying and love turning into toleration of the other.

The second relationship involves General Dreedle and the Nurse. General Dreedle is a rash man who doesn’t care about anyone but himself with the exception of his daughter. General Dreedle utilizes his Nurse as only a sex object. She could be compared to that of a sex slave or a dog: “General Dreedle’s nurse always followed General Dreedle everywhere he went” (219). Whether she represents the women of the era that followed men without question or represents the stereotype of the dumb blonde, she symbolizes the woman almost every man wishes for. General Dreedle admits to his compatriots, “You should see her naked…Back at Wing she’s got a uniform in my room made of purple silk that’s so tight her nipples stand out like bid cherries…I make her wear it some nights when Moodus is around just to drive him crazy” (216). General Dreedle uses her to drive his sexually repressed son-in-law Colonel Moodus insane. General Dreedle is his nurse’s master because he tells her what to wear and who to seduce. He represents the callous men who treat woman as just objects that must adhere to their will. They represent the type of relationship where there is no emotion, just the physical. In any case, finally the equilibrium, the part where true love is reached, is approached. Ironically placed at the beginning of the novel, a brief glimpse of a lover’s story that transcends the sexual needs and emotional validation other characters in the novel feel they need in order to feel complete.

Of course, what would become of us if not a sliver of people could actually fall in love during war time? Devastatingly, romantic movies such as Casablanca would unravel at the seams. The author narrates the end of a love story between a man and a woman in the hospital; the hospital that is white, that represents hope, new beginnings, and safety. In the man’s last months, the woman spends her time whispering gently into his ear and tending to his bed side. If he were to perish, her precious face would be the last image that flashes before his eyes. The two are described in the hospital: “in a bed in the small private section at the end of the ward, always working ceaselessly behind the green plyboard partition, was the solemn middle-aged colonel who was visited every day by a gentle sweet-faced woman with curly ash blonde hair” (14). The woman is not a member of Red Cross or a Wac girl sent to comfort soldiers; rather, she is a woman who has come by herself to visit this man. It is safe to assume she loves him and he loves her considering she wears “pretty pastel summer dresses” (14) every time she sees him. Most women, when they wear pretty clothing, especially to a hospital, do it in order to impress somebody; she dresses beautifully in order to cheer him up. This beautiful woman could spend her time chasing someone else to satisfy her sexual or emotional needs but instead chooses to spend time with her colonel: ”Neat, slender, and erect, the woman touched him often as she sat by his bedside and was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she smiled” (15). This is true love because she is devoted to him as he is devoted to her. The woman’s smile proves she does not love the man for lustful reasons because she mentally prepares herself to reserve her emotions in order to make him happy. Although this could be seen as an end to the two lover’s story, considering their lover’s story has a white background, could not it be reasoned that the background foretells their love withstanding the test of time? In a war filled with lustful and odious men and women, the two provide hope for love and teach the purest form of love is unwavering devotion. In war, there is little room for love and growth.

From the analysis of the variety of relationships between men and women in the novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, the defining line between lust, love, and hatred can be observed. The far left, lust, has men and women indulging in their sexual needs at the cost of love. These individuals are gluttons for the peace they attain for each sexual encounter, like heroin addicts who crave that one high they acquired their first time on heroine. The far right, hatred, has men and woman deteriorating on the inside from lack of love and kindness and feeling worthless preventing others from loving them. They reciprocate the hatred they receive and feel to find their peace in the ruin of others like a man beats his wife to make her feel as awful as him. The love at equilibrium has people avoid looking for sexual pleasures and validation of their own self-worth from others, and fortunately due to the couple that reaches it in the novel, love can be perceived as an escape from the horrors of war. The people trapped in the far left can realize that sexual pleasure gives them a love high creating crashing ups and downs in their life that can become stabilize- meaning a well-balance life, a simple life- when they search for a meaningful relationship that will eventually reach love. The people on the far right can approach themselves internally and learn to love their selves. Once they realize they are valuable, they can realize the value of others and come to the equilibrium of the love spectrum. War endeavors to hinder love and morph people into monsters and demons, but as long as people fall in love, everyone has an ideal median to achieve in order to escape war’s disfigurements.