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Catch-22

Catch-22

  

by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 Themes

Catch-22 Themes

Absurdity

Catch-22 might give Lewis Carroll a run for his money—there are several points at which this story gets even more absurd than Alice's trip down the rabbit hole. In this book, it all circles back...

Hypocrisy

The logic known as Catch-22 is basically just endlessly creative rationalization. It can take contradictory statements and reconcile them better than any politician, and it can make completely irra...

Power

Heller goes to great lengths to point out the incompetence, pettiness, and corruption within the bureaucratic ranks of the military in Catch-22. Its officers are often blindly selfish, heartless, i...

Lies and Deceit

Many of the characters have no qualms about lying to each other to achieve their goals. But most of the deception comes from above. So much for setting a good example, amirite? It's the milita...

Isolation

In Catch-22, the mechanized efficiency of modernity and the madness of war keep many of the characters isolated from one another. Despite spending so much time together, none of the men really form...

Language and Communication

In Catch-22, language is feeble. Words lose their integrity because what the bureaucracy says is often a blatant lie. The men live in a world where their superiors have no problem deceiving th...

Philosophical Viewpoints: Cynicism and Chance

The characters in the novel often cannot control what is happening around them and become victims of fate. This isn't all that surprising considering that the story takes place in the middle of a w...

Fear

Being surrounded by war and constant death tends to breed fear. Shocking, we know. Add in a healthy dollop of Catch-22 and a bureaucracy that covers up ugly truths to seem competent and succes...

Passivity

Many of the characters are so jaded and corrupted by all the madness and sin around them that they can no longer differentiate between good and evil. They think it is pointless to aspire to goodnes...

Greed

In the infamous words of the O'Jays: "Money, money, money, money ... mooonaay." In Catch-22, capitalism functions to maximize profit, and everyone works to increase his share of the profit. Mi...

Mortality

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, but we th...

Sex

In Catch-22, the only mentions of love and sexuality happen in the realm of the world's oldest profession: prostitution. Many of the men often mistake lust for love, and sex is often used not just...

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