Catch-22 by Joseph Heller provides a humorous yet insightful story of a soldier and his encounters during World War II. The author utilizes anecdotes and dialogue between characters to show the prevailing theme of lies and deception during war. The main character of the novel is Yossarian and is constantly trying to avoid the inevitable violence in war.
In the beginning of the novel, Yossarian is in the general hospital claiming to have liver pain. The author admits to the reader that, Actually, the pain in his liver had gone away, but Yossarian didn't say anything and the doctors never suspected (1). The soldiers have figured out that they do not have to go on dangerous missions if they are injured or ill. Many of the pilots were taking advantage of this system by giving themselves minor injuries or claiming to have internal pain. The doctors were often stumped and unable to identify cause of the imaginary pain. The characters continue this act until a new character named, Texan, annoys them all enough to return to battle. The characters were avoiding not only war but the corruption of power among the ranks in the military.
The characters in the story are constantly searching for ways to avoid being deployed on a mission. The men hear of a deadly sounding mission and try to postpone their deployment. They could not leave until the current rains subsided, so they prayed and prayed for the rain to never stop, but eventually it did and Yossarian needed to find a new trick to delay the mission further. He came up with a plan and executed it, In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna (119). Moving up the bomb line would make the commanders believe that Bologna, the city they were scheduled to bomb, had already been captured. Yossarian was risking the outcome of the war and possibly missing a chance to save American lives. Eventually, the ploy ended, and the commanding officers realized the effect of Yossarian's deceit and resumed the alleged plan.
The characters in the novel blatantly disregard direct orders for an important campaign. After they are finally deployed on their mission, Yossarian was trying to find a reason to return in the plane. The author says, Yossarian's heart sank. Something was terribly wrong if everything was all right and they had no excuse for turning back (140). After realizing this, he convinces his comrades that there is an error in the intercom and that they must turn back. The crew believes it and willingly returns to safety. It seems that as a commander, Yossarian will lie about just about anything for his own safety and to avoid violence at all costs.
So far, the story has been very similar to an episode of M*A*S*H. The characters seem to always be up to something humorous yet deceitful. Yossarian is extremely satirical and has a dark sense of humor. For example, in chapter one he is supposed to be censoring letters sent back to families in America, but instead chooses to make a game out of it and inappropriately mark out words and sign a fake name. Later in the story a conflict arises because of this and another character is blamed for Yossarian's actions. He acts as if he is a character in a sitcom.
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