“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

When exploring the concept of moral appropriateness in a text, one seeks out what could be considered as what would be right, judging the situation by hand. Generally speaking when seeking out the right in circumstances the decision comes from analyzing the physical and emotional outlooks on a character in text. In this case what is being disected in terms of moral appropriateness is one of the characters from the satirical novel by Joseph Heller; Catch-22.

Nately is young man of age who resides as a not commonly character in Catch-22. He is known for being someone who is sensitive and who comes from a wealthy family. According to Catch-22; His nature was invariably gentle and polite (Heller 248) and His childhood had been a pleasant, though disciplined one (Heller 248). In terms of exploring moral appropriateness with this character, the entirety of Nately’s context revolves around another character. The whore or Nately’s whore is a prostitute from Rome that Nately falls in love with in Catch-22.

When analyzing the situations of Nately in Catch-22 , dissecting Nately’s background, and what his actions are in the novel we can conclude distinctions on what others or the readers might see as morally inappropriate. For example, Nately comes from a family of wealth yet has fallen in love with a prostitute. A prostitute in the eyes of society is looked upon lowly. This is because their profession involves committing intimate acts with strangers in exchange for money. Usually a woman who does this in the place of poverty. Without knowing that Nately comes from a rich family, there would be no way in pointing out the moral inappropriateness between him and his whore. The appropriateness lies within their personal context that Heller has inputted in Catch-22.

It is not only the scandal between Nately and his whore that is morally inappropriate but what his intentions are revealed in Catch-22. After confessing his love to her with Yossarian and Arfy, Nately says that his intentions lie in the means of marrying the whore. The moral inappropriateness is what Nately believes to be morally appropriate. What Nately believes to be morally appropriate is to be together with the whore in terms of marriage. The character stresses out his defiance when other characters such as Arfy, opposed to his idea of being in love with the whore. In response to his statement, Arfy says I can just imagine what your father and mother would say if they knew you were running around with filthy trollops like that one. Your father is very distinguished man, you know (Heller 288). After Nately declares that he shall be marrying the whore as well Arfy responds with Ho, ho.ho,ho,ho! Now you’re really talking stupid. Why you’re not even old enough to know what true love is (Heller 288).

However there are instances in Catch-22 where readers will suggest Nately and his actions are more morally appropriate rather than inappropriate. For instance, after the whore had slept for eighteen hours, satirically it was that that made her fall in love with Nately. It is satirically in a sense that after longing for the whore to love him, it only took her sleeping for while to fall in love with Nately. Furthermore, Nately felt authority over her and the whore’s kid sister, leading to him developing a demanding side over the whore in Catch-22. Get dressed (Heller 356),Because I don’t want them to see you without any clothes on (Heller 356) are things that he ordered the whore to do. When the whore questioned him, his response was Because I say so! (Heller 356). Readers would analyze his behavior to be morally inappropriate. This is due to the fact that he is forcing her to do things out of her will only because she has fallen in love with him. It is suggesting that her returning her love gives him the right to show authority over her. Generally, others would suggest that this shouldn’t be the case and that the whore should be free to do as she pleases. On another hand, what Nately demanded of her wasn’t to suit his personal interest but rather, he was configuring her image. When he tells her to put her clothes on he says this because he does not want other men to see her in a vulnerable state that would otherwise be

inappropriate. For instance, if he didn’t tell her to cover up then the whore would continue to go her way. That way being the image of a whore. However, when it comes to moral appropriateness, one has to think that what would be best is if neither character acted upon their actions. Nately needn’t tell his whore what to do out of his will because he should not have authority over another human without their consent. The whore should not continue to act scandalously otherwise her relationship with Nately would be unbalanced in terms of class.

The reasoning behind Nataly’s actions are simple enough. He grows authoritative with the whore because he does not want her to be seen in the same way she is seen by him in the eyes of other men. He wishes to marry her because he loves her. Although despite the drastically different characteristic he develops, it can be be easily justified if one focuses on the whore’s background more than his. Nataly’s actions can be justified good in the sense that after the whore falls in love with him, he suggests that They made a wonderful family group, he decided (Heller 356). In reference of the whores sister he thought; The little girl would go to college when she was old enough, to Smith or Radcliffe or Bryn Mawr—he would see to that (Heller 356).

Overall, these actions make create a balance with this character. On one hand, Nately, like any other person contains flaws that may contribute to their moral appropriateness and then others will lean forward to inappropriateness. In this case, Nately’s ideas and what he believes to be right in overall can be considered good. To validate this statement, further into the satirical text it is discovered that Nately wishes to obtain more missions, stating in the process that I don’t want to go home until I can take her back with me (Heller 368). Following these events it is later found that Nately has died while in another mission and it was caused by Dobbs.

That being said, going back to when Nately desired to have more missions in order to be with the whore, Yossarian questioned; She means that much to you? (Heller 369). Nately agreed and responded with I might never see her again (Heller 369). What is considered to be right by Nately could not just be seen morally wrong in the eyes of the reader but other characters he interacts with. Yossarian whom is another character from Catch-22 plainly opposes to what Nately believes in. In Nately’s case it would be morally appropriate, which is to engage in more missions.

Catch-22 references ‘For the first time in his life, Yossarian prayed. He got down on his knees and prayed to Nately not to volunteer to fly more than seventy missions after Chief White Halfoat did die of pneumonia in the hospital and Nately had applied for his job (Heller 368). The negative outlook Yossarian has on Natley’s beliefs can have readers on the same terms. Morally speaking, Nately’s death can not be justified as good in any way. Although one can draw emotional pity from the event, they can also draw the conclusion that Nately did wrong in applying himself for more missions. Why he did wrong in applying for more missions mainly revolves around the fact that by doing this he died in the process. His death could have been avoidable but it all relied on Nately to realize this.

Nately could have realized his mistake by simply taking Yossarian’s advice in consideration. Others could argue that what Nately did was morally right. The idea that what Nately did was morally right can be argued because he went forward with these missions for a good cause. The good cause being that he did not want to leave the whore and her kid sister alone and wanted to take them with him. Although he did suffer death in the end, there is no other motive that can oppose to the good moral of the circumstances other them his death.

The idea of what is morally appropriate and what is not comes in the hands of what most individuals believe, or majority. Often many may see certain actions as the right thing to do while others that are not majority will think the opposite. In this case, while exploring the context of Nately, it can be concluded that this character is specifically drawn to moral appropriateness

Works Cited

Heller, Joseph. Catch 22. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2011.

The War Novel – Catch 22

War. On the homefront, everyone is a hero; society has made it custom to feel gratitude and admiration for the service that veterans sacrificed for one’s country. Within the war, however, a man’s identity is not masked by their service; these veterans, the heroes that we are conditioned to salute have true colors, colors that are truly revealed to their fellow men in uniform.

World War II was deadly. In a war where countries fought for the sake of their nation’s flag, Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, awakens the reader to the philosophy that the war wasn’t for the purpose of a nation; it was a war in which every man was for himself. In his brilliant piece, Heller artfully draws upon allusions to the Bible to create depth and color to the fictional story.

A key component to the success of Heller in Catch 22 is his use of allusion to biblical themes throughout the text. A radio-gunner in Yossarian, the protagonist and bombardier for the American forces’ plane, passes tragically while being raided by anti- American forces, and the men are rattled with sadness. Three days after the passing of the soldier, Snowden, Yossarian climbs a tree, stripped of clothing, and is accompanied by Milo, a character who some would say is the antagonist of the piece. The squadron chaplain, a young man whose faith in God is truly tested throughout the war, relates a vision he has at the funeral to his alleged deja vu problem, and Heller is successful in his parallel of the tree scene with that of the story of the Tree of Knowledge and the Garden of Eden. Heller writes as follows: The possibility that there really had been a naked man in the tree — two men, actually, since the first had been joined shortly by a second man clad in a brown mustache and sinister dark garments from head to toe who bent forward ritualistically along the limb of the tree to offer the first man something to drink from a brown goblet- never crossed the chaplain’s mind. (Heller, 272). Rich with biblical references, it becomes apparent in this scene that the allusion being made is a parody of the temptation of Christ by Satan, and of the temptation endured by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Yossarian parallels a Christ- figure whereas Milo, who formerly bombed his own squadron, parallels Satan. Heller is also strategic in that the event takes place three days after Snowden’s passing, which alludes to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead three days following.

Biblical echoes are quite prevalent throughout Joseph Heller’s work in Catch 22, and can be attributed to giving the piece such pronounced depth. Heller creates Yossarian to be a man of sanity among chaos; his character parallels a Christ-like figure throughout the piece, beyond merely the scenario with Milo and the tree. Exemplifying this is the contrast made between Yossarians sanity among the army, to Christ’s sanity among a chaotic world. This theme is represented in the novel in that Heller writes, (Yossarian) thought he knew how Christ must have felt as he walked through the world, like a psychiatrist through a ward full of nuts, like a victim through a prison full of thieves (Heller, 414-415). The bombardier brings a hopeful light to his fellow soldiers, fighting against the catch 22 system and the power of bureaucracy in extending the men in the squadron’s missions to an unreasonable quantity.

Catch 22 is a war novel like no other; it strips the fabrication from war, and provides an awakening to bare combat through the eyes of a soldier. Heller is expert in telling a wartime novel, adeptly alluding to biblical concepts to enhance the unique American tale. “

Captain John Yossarian in “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

The book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, It starts off introducing us to Captain John Yossarian, which he is in the hospital with a liver problem. When he is in the hospital, some of his friends came by to check up on him named Hungry Joe, Doctor Havemeyer, and Clevinger. They all try to avoid dying at all cost as long as they can.

We also met Milo Minderbinder who has a lot of money by him having a really good business that is worldwide. He is really not close with Yossarian. But the book is mostly about the lives of a US Air force group. The setting is on an italian island on a base which is close to Rome. Major Major Major is the new leader of the squadron when Major Duluth is killed. Major Major Major gets bored really easily so, starts to sign papers that came to his desk about. One of them was about Washington Irving.

A C.I.D man comes to find out who Washington Irving is. He got no answers but Major Major Major didn’t like all the people coming to him so he made himself scarce so no one can reach him. The Colonel Cathcart has told the man in the group, to bomb the storage area in Bologna. The men are losing their minds it because they know the flight area of Bologna was really bad and they could get killed. Yossarian was also one of those people so he made food by adding ingredients that would make all the men sick so the mission cannot happen. Also Yossarian tries to find another way not to do the mission which was to declare himself crazy so he can go underground. But all the times he has tried to stop it still has failed. That is when we found out the meaning of Catch-22 which the doctor told us. The meaning was if a man can tell the doctors that he has became crazy, then he is called sane and can mostly like be able to fly.

The whole groupe go to Rome and Nately finds his girlfriend which she has a side business of being a prostitue. Corporal Whitcomb who is the chaplain’s aid, has told the C.I.D people that the Chaplain is the man signing Washington Irving to all of the papers that are out. Yossarian was on a mission and his mind was not in the right area and because of that the plane goes down, the 2 men are wounded and died shortly after right there. In his second mission he hurt his leg really badly and doesn’t want to fly anymore. While this is going on Milo formed a group and gave things to his friends and to the Germans so it was double sided so he can get money. Yossarian tells a little fib about having dreams about a fish. The psychiatrist mixes up a patient of his with him and sends the other patient home. We also find out that Orr is dead by him having a crash landing but it also tells us that he was Yossarian roommate. McWatt is conditioning with a bunch of soldiers and flies too close to Sampson who is on a little boat and the other man are stumble from the loss of them.

Yossarians talks to Nately’s girlfriend and he says that he is dead. She starts to come after him so she can kill him and she even when to a extent and went to his base and tried to kill him. So Yossarian goes off the grid with the help of Milo, and he tries and find Nately’s girlfriends and her sister because they got kicked out of there home by the government because of the things that they have done. But Yossarian gets arrested for going going off the grid by the government. He is send back to the Colonel Cathcart’s post and he can go anywhere he want in the US as long as that him and the colonel are good. He says yes but when he walks out the post Nately’s girlfriend was waiting outside stabs him. While he is getting escorted he thinks about the conversation he had with the colonel that he decided that he would rather run away and that’s exactly what he did. That is when he finds out that Orr is still alive in Sweden trying to lay low . So Yossarians decides to runs aways and finds Nately’s girlfriend’s sister so he can escort her to Sweden with him. Also is that he cannot get court-martialed.

World War II in “Catch-22”

The story begins when the main character Yossarian, who wants to avoid the violence of World War II, goes to a military hospital claiming that he has pain in his liver. His condition wasn’t quite jaundice so the doctors didn’t know how to treat it. Every morning the doctors would check on him to see if his bowels were moving and if the pain was any different.

But he would keep saying his bowels haven’t moved and the pain is the same, which irritated the doctors because they suspected that his bowels were moving but he just hadn’t told anyone and they give him another pill. Yossarian likes the hospital because it has everything he needs.

They brought him decent food such as fresh meat and cool fruit juice or milk. In the hospital he has a lot of time that he can spend by himself other than a little time in the morning when he has to censor letters. He is supposed to black out military and strategic details from letters written home by American soldiers. Since Yossarian has to censor letters all the time he gets bored so he plays a game where he’ll delete random words according to however he’s feeling and he puts his signature as “Washington Irving.” Yossarian is in the ward with a few other men including: his friend Dunbar, a man who is completely wrapped in bandages except for a hole for his mouth for fluids to go in and out of him and can’t move who they call “the soldier in white.”

A new wounded officer is admitted to the ward one day and nobody in the ward can stand his cheerful attitude. He tries to convince the other men in the ward that “decent folk” deserve more votes. A chaplain visits Yossarian and he enjoys his company. Yossarian warns the chaplain about the patients in the other wards because they are crazy. After ten days of the Texan arriving at the hospital, almost all of the patients, even Yossarian, leave the ward because they can’t put up with the Texan. When they find that the “soldier in white” is dead Yossarian believes that the Texan killed him.

Catch-22: The Lives of a US Air Force Group

The book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is about the lives of a US Air force group. The setting is on an italian island on a base which is close to Rome. It introduces us to Captain John Yossarian, which he is in the hospital with a liver problem.

When he is in the hospital, some of his friends came by named Hungry Joe, Doctor Havemeyer, and Clevinger. They all try to avoid dying at all cost as long as they can. We also met the lieutenant Milo Minderbinder who has a lot of money by him having a really good business that is worldwide. Major Major Major is the new leader of the squadron when Major Duluth is killed. Major Major Major gets bored really easily so like a normal person, starts to sign papers that came to his desk about Washington Irving. A C.I.D man comes to find out who Washington Irving is. Major Major Major didn’t like all the people coming to him so he made himself scarce so no one can reach him.

The Colonel Cathcart has told the man in the squadron, to bomb storage dumps in Bologna. The men are losing it because they know the flight area of Bologna was really dangerous. Yossarian was also scared so he made food and tried to make all the men sick so the mission cannot happen. Also Yossarian tries to find another way not to do the mission which was to declare himself crazy so he can go underground. But all the times he has tried it still has failed. That is when we found out the meaning of Catch-22 which was the if a man can tell the doctors that he has became crazy, then he is called sane and can mostly like be able to fly. But after all Yossarian and his friends go to Rome and Nately finds his prostitute girlfriend. Corporal Whitcomb who is the chaplain’s aid, has told the C.I.D people that the Chaplain is the man signing Washington Irving to all of the papers that are out. Yossarian was on a mission and his mind was not in the right area and because of that the plane goes down, so his gunner and his snowden are wounded and died shortly after right there.

In his second mission he hurt his leg really badly and doesn’t want to fly anymore. While this is going on Milo formed a group and gave things to his allies and to the Germans so it was double sided so he can get money. Yossarian tells a little fib about having dreams about a fish. The psychiatrist mixes up a soldier with him and sends the soldier home. We also find out that Orr is dead by him having a crash landing but he was Yossarian roommate. McWatt is in a training run with a bunch of soldiers and flies too close to Sampson who is on a raft and the other man are stumble from the loss of them. Yossarians talks to Nately’s girlfriend and he says that he is dead.

She tries to kill him and she even when to a extent and went to his base and tried to kill him. So Yossarian goes off the grid with the help of Milo, and he tries and find Nately’s girlfriends and her sister because they got kicked out of there home by the government because of the things that they have done. But Yossarian gets arrested for going going off the grid by the government. He is send back to the Colonel Cathcart’s post and he can go anywhere he want in the US as long as that him and the colonel are good. He says yes but when he walks out the post Nately’s girlfriend was waiting outside stabs him. While he is getting escorted he thinks about the conversation he had with the colonel that he decided that he would rather run away and that’s exactly what he did. That is when he finds out by the Chaplain that Orr is alive in Sweden. He runs aways and finds Nately’s girlfriend’s sister so he can take her to Sweden with him.

Catch-22: Humorous and Insightful Story of a Soldier

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller provides a humorous yet insightful story of a soldier and his encounters during World War II. The author utilizes anecdotes and dialogue between characters to show the prevailing theme of lies and deception during war. The main character of the novel is Yossarian and is constantly trying to avoid the inevitable violence in war.

In the beginning of the novel, Yossarian is in the general hospital claiming to have liver pain. The author admits to the reader that, Actually, the pain in his liver had gone away, but Yossarian didn’t say anything and the doctors never suspected (1). The soldiers have figured out that they do not have to go on dangerous missions if they are injured or ill. Many of the pilots were taking advantage of this system by giving themselves minor injuries or claiming to have internal pain. The doctors were often stumped and unable to identify cause of the imaginary pain. The characters continue this act until a new character named, Texan, annoys them all enough to return to battle. The characters were avoiding not only war but the corruption of power among the ranks in the military.

The characters in the story are constantly searching for ways to avoid being deployed on a mission. The men hear of a deadly sounding mission and try to postpone their deployment. They could not leave until the current rains subsided, so they prayed and prayed for the rain to never stop, but eventually it did and Yossarian needed to find a new trick to delay the mission further. He came up with a plan and executed it, In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna (119). Moving up the bomb line would make the commanders believe that Bologna, the city they were scheduled to bomb, had already been captured. Yossarian was risking the outcome of the war and possibly missing a chance to save American lives. Eventually, the ploy ended, and the commanding officers realized the effect of Yossarian’s deceit and resumed the alleged plan.

The characters in the novel blatantly disregard direct orders for an important campaign. After they are finally deployed on their mission, Yossarian was trying to find a reason to return in the plane. The author says, Yossarian’s heart sank. Something was terribly wrong if everything was all right and they had no excuse for turning back (140). After realizing this, he convinces his comrades that there is an error in the intercom and that they must turn back. The crew believes it and willingly returns to safety. It seems that as a commander, Yossarian will lie about just about anything for his own safety and to avoid violence at all costs.

So far, the story has been very similar to an episode of M*A*S*H. The characters seem to always be up to something humorous yet deceitful. Yossarian is extremely satirical and has a dark sense of humor. For example, in chapter one he is supposed to be censoring letters sent back to families in America, but instead chooses to make a game out of it and inappropriately mark out words and sign a fake name. Later in the story a conflict arises because of this and another character is blamed for Yossarian’s actions. He acts as if he is a character in a sitcom.

Catch-22: Bombing Squadron

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is about the lives of group of men that are in bombing Squadron. The setting is on an island on a base during world war II. It introduces us to the main character Yossarian, which he was in the hospital with a liver illness.

While he is in the hospital it tells us some of his friends named Hungry Joe, Doc Havemeyer, and Clevinger. We also met the lieutenant Milo Minderbinder who can get anything for anyone. Major Major Major becomes in charge of the squadron when Major Duluth is killed. Major Major Major gets bored really easily so he starts to sign papers that comes across his desk about Washington Irving. A C.I.D man comes to find out who Washington Irving is. Major Major Major didn’t like all the people coming to him so he made himself scarce so no one can reach him. The Colonel Cathcart has told the man in the squadron, to bomb storage dumps in Bologna. The men are really scared to do it because the flight area of Bologna was really dangerous. Yossarian was also scared so he made food and tried to make all the men sick so the mission cannot happen.

Also Yossarian tries to find another way not to do the mission which was to declare himself crazy so he can go underground. That is when we found out the meaning of Catch-22 which was the if a man can tell the doctors that he is crazy, then he is called sane and can still fly. But after all Yossarian and his friends go to Rome and Nately finds his prostitute girlfriend. Corporal Whitcomb who is the chaplain’s aid, has told the C.I.D man that the Chaplain is the man signing Washington Irving name to the papers. Yossarian was on a mission and he lost his mind and the plane goes down, his gunner and his snowden are wounded and died shortly after. In his second mission he hurt his leg really badly and doesn’t want to fly anymore. While this is going on Milo formed a syndicate and gave things to his allies and to the Germans. Yossarian tells a little fib about having dreams about a fish. The psychiatrist mixes up a soldier with him and sends the soldier home.

We also find out that Orr is dead. McWatt is in a training run with a bunch of soldiers and flies too close to Sampson who is on a raft and the other soldiers are stumble from the loss of them. Yossarians talks to Nately’s girlfriend and he says that he is dead. She tries to kill him and she even when to a extent and went to his base and tried to kill him. So Yossarian goes AWOL with the help of Milo, try and find Nately’s girlfriends and her sister because they got kicked out of there home by the MPs. But Yossarian gets arrested for going AWOL by the MPs. He is send back to the Colonel Cathcart’s office and he can go back to the states if he acts like he is friends with the colonel. He says yes but when he walks out the office Nately’s girlfriend stabs him and when he is in the hospital he says that he would run away. That is when he finds out by the Chaplain that Orr is alive in Sweden. He runs aways and finds Nately’s girlfriend’s sister so he can take her to Sweden with him.

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.