What makes any theme universal is that it applies to life and human nature no matter in what time period the novel is set. Some of the themes in this novel deal with the shallowness of ambition and materialism and the difficulty of the individual to fight against such huge institutions as the military and business corporations. At one time, it was believed that a person couldn't "fight city hall", but we love novels and movies where the individual wins out over government bureaucracy or the corruption of huge corporations.
I assume you need to start your essay with a question and then use the characters and events of the novel to support your thesis. Some possibilities: "Is it possible for one person to fight and win against a corrupt society?" "What can one person do when society values material wealth over human life?"
You might even consider writing your essay first and then composing your general thesis afterwards. Sometimes, we can get a better idea after writing the complete essay.
I hope this helps some. Good luck!
This is a very good question. By level three, I'm assuming you're talking about higher order thinking skills. It's been awhile since I taught this book, but one of the main premises of it is that the men can't win--which is the opinion of many people about war...it's a lose-lose all around. For instance, when the pilots ask the doc how they can keep from flying to stay alive, he responds, "All they have to do is ask." However, the Catch-22 for this example is that if you're sane enough to ask, you're sane enough to fly...only the ones who want to fly are not sane enough to fly and would be given a reprieve from flying IF they ask, but they don't ask because they're insane. It all goes around in circles.
So, to employ this as a universal theme, you might ask your fellow classmates to explain the theme of Catch-22 using both examples from the text (like the one above) and also by applying it to a modern day example.