Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

November 5, 2016
By Andy_Schl BRONZE, Draper, Utah
Andy_Schl BRONZE, Draper, Utah
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

    Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is a satirical classic that is loved by some, but hated by others. Its main character is a WWII soldier named Yossarian who constantly finds himself surrounded by insanity, and whose only wish is to escape alive. The book’s supporters praise it for blowing the whistle on big business and bloated governments, while its opponents despise it for laying waste to the American values that they hold dear. But whichever group is correct, the truth remains that Heller’s novel is largely tedious and uninspiring.
    Catch-22’s monotony is not because its satire is not amusing or wise enough. In fact, just the opposite is true. Nuggets of wisdom can be found everywhere, such as when Yossarian explains, “The enemy [...] is anybody who’s going to get you killed no matter which side he’s on” (Heller 122). Another example lies on page 36, where Heller calls out the rampant hypocrisy in today’s society. Colonel Cargill gives a speech that concludes with an assurance that he is not the type of general who would ever order troops to attend a USO show; but in the very next sentence, he proceeds to do exactly that. This is only a tiny sampling of the many truths that can be found within the pages of Catch-22.
    Catch-22’s fatal flaw lies not within the satire or the plot, but in the balance between the two. Most satiric novels comment on society in the background while characters live in the foreground. Catch-22 is the opposite. The reader will find page after page of incessant social commentary and witty satire, with the only an occasional plot element. When this social commentary is good as in Catch-22, this is a recipe for an excellent satirical short story. However, Catch-22 is no short story -- it is well over 400 pages long, with small font and large pages. While the first few dozen pages may be amusing and enjoyable, the author’s satiric style quickly becomes an old joke.
    Joseph Heller’s famous novel Catch-22 does comment insightfully on many aspects of society. However, he fails to hold the reader’s interest because in this book, plot seems to be but an afterthought. If Catch-22 only had a more compelling plot and less obtrusive satire, it might be considered a true masterpiece; but as it stands now, it is stale and monotonous.

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on Nov. 16 2016 at 1:13 pm
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hey wassup dude


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