Depicts the struggles of a U.S. airman attempting to survive the lunacy and depravity of a World War II base.
Joseph Heller's manic, bleak, blackly humorous, and brilliant novel has become a classic of American literature, and "Catch-22" has entered the language as a term describing a no-win situation. Set during the last months of World War II, the novel tells the story of an Air Force bombardier, the hapless Yossarian, who is convinced--quite rightly, of course--that people are trying to kill him. The famous "catch" is that the terrified Yossarian, who constantly and by increasingly inventive means tries to persuade his superiors that he is crazy and should be grounded, can't be grounded because his fear of dying proves that he is sane--and so he is assigned to more and more bombing missions. Heller makes the horrors of war, which include Yossarian's traumatized reliving of the particularly grisly death of a friend, into comedy with the help of a Dickensian cast of characters, including the elusive Major Major Major Major, the blackmarket profiteer Milo Minderbinder, the photographer Hungry Joe, and the wonderfully named parade-loving Lieutenant Scheisskopf. Based on Heller's own war experiences, CATCH-22 was published in 1961 and was considered shocking because it viewed World War II as anything but the glorious, romantic adventure depicted in many postwar movies and books. Heller's novel became one of the defining texts for Vietnam War protestors in the late '60s and early '70s because of its fierce, irreverent denunciation of war and bureaucracy. An interesting sidelight on the book is that Heller originally titled it CATCH-18, but the change was made because Leon Uris's WWII novel, MILA 18, had just been published.
- Fiction + Literature Genres, Fiction + Literature Themes
- Classics, War + Military, Conflicts + Dualities, General, Human Qualities + Behavior, Literary Genres + Types of Novels, Settings, Humorous Fiction, Work + the Workplace
- October 1, 1995
- October 1, 1995
- Joseph Heller