If you read a book without any preconceived notions, without trying to guess what it’s about, you have wondrous insights that’s far removed from what others are thinking. For me, Catch 22 was a tragedy; everywhere else it’s hailed as a comedy of epic proportions.

A second world war novel based partly on the author’s own experience, Catch 22 is a satire with absurd humour lining every situation.

The novel is set in a fictitious island off thd coast of Italy that stations an American bomber troop. Every bomber has to go in a set number of missions and while the war is on, there’s no end to this number. Yossarian, the young protagonist can find no way out of the madfully stressful missions that he has to go on.

All Yossarian wants is to stay alive. He is convinced that he would be killed in one of the missions so he tries to escape going for them by devising inventive excuses.

However, through the absurd, weird, funny and often sad (maybe just to me) events, Catch 22 brings out the foolishness of war and of bureaucracy. Repetition becomes an instrument that presents craziness whether it be Major Major Major Major (a person’s name) or the shrieking nightmares that the young soldiers have.

What’s a Catch-22 situation? Where you lose either way. When you can’t get out of it no matter what. It’s a paradox and that’s the fire of the book, one that underlines everything else.

As I read the book, I feared for Yossarian and his fellow soldiers, their mental health and their helplessness in the face of a war. Not allowed to go home, not fit enough to man the frontlines, the soldiers live in an isolated island in the Pacific, making the best of the situation they are in.

The closing of the book completely reveals the emptiness that war, killings and death bring and the final image of Yossarian paddling away to somewhere remainrd etched in my mind for a long time. (No, this isn’t exactly a spoiler)

Read this much celebrated novel with an open mind, observe what you feel, gauge your own emotions and expand your understanding of your own morality.

I am writing book reviews this month for #BlogchatterA2Z.

8 thoughts on “Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

  1. This reminded me of the movie 1917. Similar to what you have said, these 2 soldiers endure so much to pass on a message which they think will end a war but it only ends up delaying it. And it just brings home the futility of it with such force.

    Liked by 1 person

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