The Topics Of War And Bureaucratism In Catch 22
- Topics: Catch 22
- Words: 1366
- Pages: 3
- This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.
The book I am researching is ‘Catch-22’ by Joseph Heller. It is a book set in WW2 and focuses on the terrifying aspects of the war and how the soldiers had no power or control over anything they did or even whether they lived or died. The main character is Captain John Yossarian, a bomber that is stationed on a small island outside Italy called Pianosa. A lot of the book sees Yossarian try to escape the army as he is stuck in a ‘catch-22’ that means he cannot leave or be discharged.
A catch-22 is a ‘paradoxical loop that a person cannot escape because of contradictory rules’. An example of this in real life is finding a job. How can someone gain experience to get a job if they are constantly turned away for not having any?
There are many themes that run throughout this book. For example, the loss of religious faith or the impotence of language. The main theme that I will be focusing on is the absolute power of bureaucracy and their abuse of that power. This theme is the most influential one in the book and it gives the reader a sense of what WW2 was like and how the soldiers were governed by their superiors who had no concern for their safety. Along with this theme, I will also be focusing on the catch-22 motif that runs throughout the book. This motif links to the theme of bureaucracy because Yossarian and all his co-pilots are caught in a catch-22 by the bureaucrats. As well as this, this motif is one of the most important features of the book as it is the title and also the most well-known thing about it.
Bureaucracy is ‘a system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives’ and the bureaucrats are the officials of that government.
In this piece of writing I want to show how Joseph Heller criticises bureaucracy and the government using catch-22s and other clever techniques. He also shows the effect that bureaucracy has on the characters within the book which reflect the negative impact the power of bureaucracy has in society. I will do this by giving examples of these techniques with explanations that help to prove my point.
Throughout this book Heller shows the power of the bureaucracy and presents it as unfair and selfish, abusing their power for their own gain and having no care for the well-being or lives of their soldiers. He uses this to criticise and ridicule governments and bureaucracies in our society for having the same qualities, others have described the book as a satire on war and bureaucracy. He specifically focuses on how the American government abused its power during WW2, repeatedly putting their soldiers in danger for no good reason.
“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 had 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.”
This catch-22 has been put in place by the bureaucrats in order to stop the soldiers being able to be discharged. If they were crazy they could be discharged but if they said they were crazy, that meant they were not. The repetitive use of this motif throughout this book allows the reader to be put in Yossarians position. He is trapped, surrounded on all sides by people who want to kill him and people who want to send him to his death. The use of this motif also highlights the extent to which the soldiers are controlled and manipulated by the bureaucrats. This shows how the bureaucrats will do everything in their power to stop people from being discharged. It presents the bureaucrats within this book as being selfish and having complete disregard for any of the soldiers’ lives and reflects what Joseph Heller thinks bureaucracies and governments are like in our society.
“That’s the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-Seventh Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you’d still have to fly them, or you’d be guilty of disobeying an order of his.”
This is one of the biggest catch-22s in the whole book. Colonel Cathcart wants to be promoted so he keeps ordering his men to fly more missions before they can be discharged. This catch-22 Is the biggest thing that keeps this soldiers from escaping because every time Yossarian comes close to the required amount of missions, the colonel raises it again. The use of this motif shows the absolute disregard the bureaucrats have for the lives of their soldiers, they will put their lives in danger over and over again just because they want to be promoted. This also makes us feel sympathy for the soldiers because of the utter futility of attempting to escape the system the honest way.
“General Dreedle stepped up to pin a medal on him for his heroism over Ferrara”
This is the main character in the book, John Yossarian receiving a medal for his so called ‘heroics’ in one of his missions. However, the use of the abstract noun, ‘heroism’ is ironic because all he actually did was make a mistake that caused one of his comrades to be killed. Here he learns the true nature of the bureaucrats. He begins by having confidence in his actions however his actions cause other people to die and he quickly loses the confidence. When he is awarded this medal, it shows Yossarian and the readers how unjust the bureaucrats are and makes him decide that he must find any way possible to leave the army. It also shows how the bureaucrats have absolute power. You could be the bravest and most heroic soldier in the army, but the bureaucrats decide that the officer who caused people to die gets the awards for bravery and honour. This is shown again in the book when a soldier called Major Major is promoted simply because of his name. These are the messages Heller was trying to get across about the unfairness of bureaucracy.
“‘The important thing is to keep pledging,’ he explained to his cohorts. ’It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what ‘pledge’ and ‘allegiance’ mean.’ ‘
Here, Captain Black shows his jingoism (extreme patriotism) by forcing officers to sign ‘loyalty oaths’ and claims that the more loyalty oaths an officer signs, the more ‘patriotic’ the officer was presumed to be. Heller suggests that the loyalty oaths are meaningless when he says that the officers later became forced to sign these oaths in order to be served food and granted other basic human rights. Heller’s authorial intention here is to criticise the pointlessness of American patriotism and gives the example of the pledge of allegiance, in which many young students do not even understand what they are saying. Heller is also criticising the American government for brainwashing their soldiers into accepting every order without question, allowing the people in charge to have complete power over them.
In conclusion, Joseph Heller uses the motif of catch-22 and different characters such as Captain Black and Colonel Cathcart to criticise modern bureaucracies and governments for their abuse of power, especially during WW2. He presents the bureaucracy in catch-22 as having no concern for anyone but themselves, this is supposed to be a reflection of bureaucracies and governments in society. He also uses the theme of the absolute power of bureaucracy to give the reader a sense of what life was like in WW2 and how soldiers had no control over their lives.
Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch 22” is a story that follows Yossarian, a bombardier stationed on the island Pianosa, by the Italian coast in the Mediterranean. His goal being to finally be discharged from combat. While following Yossarain’s plight we are shown details through Heller’s different literary devices. Usage of symbolism, tone, and writing style are prominent features in his text, which enables him to mimic human interaction while critiquing society. His writing style, however, is what sets his story apart....
Many literary works have a sense of supreme authority or identity loss in them, which is precisely why this makes them akin to colonialist literature, even when at first glance the books seem to have nothing to do with (post) colonialist literary theory. In Catch 22, we see these elements and more of Postcolonialism through representations of oppressors, non-oppressors (or the immoral “other”), a role of language that supports this power dynamic between the two, and an evident identity loss...
During this essay I will be exploring three different challenges faced by the modern criminal justice system within England in Wales; the first of which is the complexity of the new approaches being used by the individuals working within the criminal justice system that have arisen due to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, taking into account the new safety measures put in place and the increase of hidden crimes such as domestic violence that do not take place in...
Through the examination of a World War II society, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 challenges the responders to consider the role of individuality, in comparison to modern-day societal structures, conveying that human experiences are the focus of ‘good fiction. As a bombardier in World War II, Heller’s personal experiences motivate him to express the idea that individualism cannot exist in a power-driven society. The constant attempts at self-preservation and lack of selflessness in the novel forces the reader to reconsider the role...
“No human….at work” -Ania Loomba, (Indian scholar) Colonialism/Postcolonialism Many literary works have a sense of “greater authority” or “identity loss” in them, and it is exactly this that makes them akin to colonialist literature, even when at first glance, the books seem to do nothing with postcolonialist literary theory. In Catch 22, we see this element of Postcolonialist theory through representations of oppressors, non-oppressors and the immoral “other”, a role of language that supports this power dynamic, and identity loss...
Joseph Heller writes this book in 1961, and this book is talking about a bunch of soldier in world war two who don’t really want to be involved in this war, and so the story began with a soldier whose name is Yossarian. He is an air force on the island of Pianosa, which is near the Italian coast. Yossarian and all his friends in the army live under the nightmare of their officer and all the violence around them....
Pioneering talent in Hollywood is not hard to spot and with veterans in the acting and filmmaking industry, it’s not hard to find space and capital to make your own movies. Producers and filmmakers take storytelling from various sources in art, entertainment, and even social media. There’s an abundance of moving and compelling stories out there and when some have been translated onto screen straight from a book, the expectations are set to the maximum. Acting veteran and award-winner George...
The moment we laugh at something for the first time is the moment we change its truth value, undermining its solemnity, its accuracy, its authority, and become free to discard it. This is the effect Joseph Heller and Stanley Kubrick intended to evoke in their respective satires. Heller and Kubrick’s protagonists live in a world where individuals are subjected to the capricious authority of an impersonal and preeminent bureaucracy, and have no free agency of their own. In Catch-22, Heller’s...
Whilst Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 condemns the US Air Force’s tyrannical ruling by exposing the superiors’ absurd justification of their actions and the resulting proliferation of cynicism among soldiers, Julian Morrow’s The Checkout elevates the oppressed consumers in the context of modern society, and promotes direct rebellion against the oppressive companies and corporations. Nonetheless, both works are testaments to the power of scathing social commentary which discredit and ridicule oppressive values. Thus, both works reunite in their ways of inducing...
01 / 09
Fair Use Policy
EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via email@example.com.
We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.