Something Happened Literary Techniques

Joseph Heller

Literary Techniques

Abandoning the multiple points of view of Catch-22, Heller in Something Happened experiments with a first person interior monologue. Related in the present tense, Bob Slocum's monologue, however, is less important for advancing the action than for conveying his memories of key events in the past, his dire presentiments of the future, and his confessions of anxieties and moral failings. The time shifts in the narration, which occur with greater frequency as the monologue unfolds, reflect Slocum's psychological breakdown. Heller has explained, "Something Happened is written from the point of view of someone so close to madness that he no longer has the ability to control what to think about." Perhaps the most interesting dimension of the narrator's monologue is that it shows his avoidance of painful realities. For example, whenever, he starts discussing Derek, he digresses, most often to sex reveries. As in Catch-22, repetition is significant, with Slocum's recollections of his adolescent gropings with Virginia being the major unifying device revealing the futility of his efforts to romanticize his past.

The narrative structure relates closely to Heller's treatment of point of view. The monologue is divided into nine sections, which follow an orderly sequence of psychologically introducing Slocum, then portraying his company and each member of his family, then depicting two climactic events in Slocum's life — his acceptance of...

(The entire section is 473 words.)