Catch-22

Joseph Heller

Summary

During World War II, a soldier named Yossarian is stationed on the island of Pianoso on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. He and his squadron are forced to endure the harsh, in humane existence caused by the blind ambitions of their superior officers. Yossarian and his crew are carelessly thrown into combat missions to drop bombs and gather photographic reconnaissance. After each mission they are met with the promise that they will be sent home after a certain amount of missions, but their superior officers keep raising the number of missions that hey need to fly in order to be discharged and return home. Yossarian views the war on a personal level as if millions of people are trying to kill him. He is furious that his life is constantly in danger through no fault of his own. Because he has a strong will to live, he fakes many health ailments in order to be sent to the hospital and away from combat.




Review

Catch-22 is a great novel about the unfair hardships of war, especially World War II. From the book you can discern the feeling that war is just a game played by the rich and the soldiers are just pawns. It is easy to relate to Yossarian, because almost anyone in his exact same situation would be upset at their situation, angered by the carelessness of his superior officers. One of the main themes in the novel is the moral issue between self-preservence and risking your life for the ones you care about.


Favorite Passage

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he would have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed."


Characters

Yossarian

The main character, Yossarian, is a captain in the Air Force and lead bombardier, but absolutely hates war. He has a strong, indefatigable will to live, and ironically decides within the novel to "live forever or die trying". Although thought of as a hero, he never takes any chance that would include him risking his life. A strong conflict develops between Yossarian's strong will to live and him caring for his friends enough to risk his life.


Milo Minderbinder

Brilliant, possibly insane, and liked by every member if his squadron, Milo displays selfish acts throughout the novel. Milo uses his brilliance to make money in a vast array of countries and through the black market. He proves that he has an enormous list for money when he allows his own squadron to be bombed by Germans. Milo appears to be the exact opposite as. Yossarian by having a reckless and careless personality.