Joseph Heller’s primary means of exposing the negative aspects of World War 2 is satire. He employs a combination of absurdism and realism to show that the war and the social world within it were often meaningless. At the same time, he creates an array of characters that have internal consistency, and he develops a set of plot lines. The central motif of Catch-22 is one way that he holds the novel together and highlights the absurdities. Everyone knows what this catch is, but no one can find it written in any specific set of regulations. Whenever a logical conclusion to a difficult problem seems likely, it will not be reached because there is always this catch.
The well-developed central character, Yossarian, constantly looks for ways to remove himself from flying additional bombing missions. He is consistent in his opposition to the extra missions and tries to identify and exploit the catch whenever he can. Because his arguments are well-reasoned, however, they have little effectiveness against the general absurdity in which he finds himself.
Heller’s novel is anti-war in specific ways; however, it is not a work of pacifism. As an officer whose position is bombardier, Yossarian does not oppose flying the bombing raids. He objects to the superior officers constantly raising the number of missions he is required to fly because he knows they do so in hopes of gaining personal prestige and benefits. Heller also raises objections to people benefiting financially from the war, such as Milo Minderbinder and the others in his corporation, while countless others sacrificed their lives.