© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Catch-22

Catch-22

by Joseph Heller

Mortality Theme

Mortality and the inevitability of death pervade Catch-22. Yossarian's friends die in unnecessary and brutal ways. This instills a terror in Yossarian that some might consider irrational. In fact, his fear of death is justified given the situation. But horrifying as it is, the spectacle of death is strangely fascinating and people are drawn to it. When describing a death scene, Heller often slows down time to make it more dramatic.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why is "Snowden's secret" a revelation to Yossarian? How does it change him?
  2. To what extent is it shameful to fear death? At what point is it morally acceptable to die for a cause?
  3. What motifs or images does Heller use to illustrate man's mortality?
  4. Does it seem to matter to Heller whether or not men die with dignity? To Yossarian?

Chew on This

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

Yossarian's paranoia that everyone is trying to kill him is unfounded and psychologically unhealthy.

Yossarian's fear of death is justified since there are people out to kill him. It is this fear that keeps him alive.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement