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Joseph Heller

 Table of Contents

Catch-22 Theme of Absurdity

Some of the logic in Catch-22 is just weird. It involves exaggeration of certain traits or situations to the point of ridicule. Just consider the absurd as anything that a person in his right mind would not do or ever imagine. Absurdity and discontinuity show a distinct lack of cohesion and coherence and highlight the madness of the modern world. Sometimes the strangeness in things is not the situation exactly but the fact that the situation seems strangely familiar. Instances of déjà vu define surrealism and increase the absurdity of a situation because one thinks he knows what will happen in the scene.

Questions About Absurdity

  1. What are some techniques Heller uses to express the absurdity of the Catch-22 world? On the plot level? On the structural level?
  2. How do absurdity and surrealism contribute to the overall tone of mockery and cynicism?
  3. How does absurdity alienate the men from one another and make them feel utterly alone?
  4. Digressions are one form of absurdity, showing a discontinuity between two thoughts. How does Heller use digressions to play with the chronology of events and make his narrative seem disjointed?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Catch-22, Heller exaggerates and juxtaposes character traits and situations for a purely comic effect.

In Catch-22, Heller uses themes of absurdity and surrealism to accentuate the men's isolation and frequent misunderstandings.

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