* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
Dismiss
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Catch-22

Catch-22

by Joseph Heller

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

The book follows a form of logic called "Catch-22." It's a paradoxical law that means you're circumstantially screwed – no matter what choice you make. Since the publication of the novel, the term "Catch-22" has been used to describe any unsolvable logical dilemma or deadlock. The protagonist of the novel, Yossarian, often finds himself stymied by his own Catch-22: he's caught up in situations that prove life threatening, but he can't legally escape them.

The novel was originally titled Catch-18 but changed when another WWII novel with the number eighteen was published around the same time. So Heller decided on 22 because the repeated numbers parallel some repeating events in the book and describe the déjà vu type occurrences (source. So he killed two birds with one stone. Clever guy.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement