Study Guide

Catch-22 Lies and Deceit

By Joseph Heller

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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 military administration that falsifies news or twists tragedies to make themselves look good to the American public or boost morale. This includes covering up unsightly or politically compromising deaths and failures. In contrast, a few characters do adhere to a moral code. In the midst of corruption, they try to remain loyal to their friends, to be honest, to consider the well-being of their fellow men, and to mourn when there are deaths—not to just cover the corruption up. 

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Which person does the administration deceive the most? The American media, the enemy, or their own men? What does this say about their goals?
  2. How does Yossarian adhere to his own moral code? What admirable characteristics does he demonstrate that the administration lacks?
  3. Is there such a thing as collective integrity among the men in Catch-22? Or is integrity only displayed on the individual level?
  4. To be deceived, the men must be blind to a certain degree. To what extent is their blindness caused by the administration's manipulation, or by a result of their own apathy?

Chew on This

Because the enlisted men concentrate mainly on staying alive, they do not show a united movement of integrity; instead, integrity is shown only on the individual level.

Because the enlisted must concentrate on staying alive, they pull together to show their strength against the corrupt administration; their collective integrity plays counterpoint to the integrity shown on the individual level.

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