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Can someone help explain Catch-22.I am having trouble understanding the writing. I do...

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willowrosenberg | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 19, 2011 at 6:08 AM via web

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Can someone help explain Catch-22.

I am having trouble understanding the writing. I do think parts are funny but I don't understtand what is true and what is just a joke or ironic.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM (Answer #1)

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Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is my very favorite of all novels. I was lucky enough to be taught it in senior English in high school, and I hope you are doing the same. It is totally fiction, of course, but most of the crazy antics described in the novel are supposed to happen to the characters. It is an anti-war satire of great magnitude, and Heller's absurdist humor is aimed at various established systems and concepts of which he has little respect--particularly the military, commercial profiteering, and the very slight difference between sanity and insanity. Yossarian, who everyone believes is crazy, is about the only sane character in the novel. The rest of his comrades border on the insane, but since they are all alike, only the very different Yossarian stands apart. Heller's primary point in the novel is the futility of war. He satirizes it through Milo Minderbinder's selling out his own men for financial profit; through  inept leadership; and through the concepts of bravery and cowardice. Yossarian has become one of American literature's greatest anti-heroes, and the term Catch-22 has become a catch-phrase for any excuse, absurd rule or guideline that arises.

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