Irony in Catch 22 by Joseph Heller Essay
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Irony in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
According to The Merriam - Webster Dictionary "Irony is 1.) the use of words to express the opposite of what one really means 2.) incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result" (380) In Catch-22 the type of irony that Heller uses is the second definition "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected results" (Merriam - Webster Dictionary 380). For example in Catch-22 Heller writes "Actually, there were many officers clubs that Yossarian had not helped build, but he was proudest of the one on Pianosa" (18). You would have expected Heller to write he was proudest of the club that he built but he says the opposite and that…show more content…
The comic formula 'Catch-22' sums up man's position on am absurd universe, and the novel shows that is applies to every aspect of life: to war, to love, to business, even to religion." (Colmer 210)
Part of the irony that envelops Catch-22 is the use of it's extremely creative dialogue and scenes in the story. Heller places the reader in a atmosphere where comedy shouldn't be able to exist at all, but Heller somehow puts a reverse on the normality and creates a memorable scene. "Heller invents dialogue rich in humor and pathos in order to fit the serious religious and philosophical implications of 'Catch-22' into his comic novel." (Colmer 212)
The comedy that Catch-22 brings is ironic in itself, think how can you get humor out of war which entails pain and suffering, that beats me how Heller does it but by whatever means used Heller creates a complete package of humor and real life occurrences which is a great fete in itself. "Though it's comic formula riddle, Heller's novel expresses the apparently inescapable human predicament." (Colmer 213)
The irony is also that Heller points to something more deep and unknown that war, pain, and suffering itself. In this way Heller points to the inner realms of mans consciousness and sanity to find a completely different and unique personality
Also one of my favorite novels, and i believe one of the most significant novels of our time. One of the first themes developed in the novel is the question of what is right to do in a basic moral dilemma/social dilemma; where a person can cooperate with others to their collective greater payoff; or can sell them out by not cooperating, and reap even greater benefits as an individual. Yossarian is presented as having decided upon and relishing the immoral choice to such questions. Yossarian (and Doc Daneeka) often wonder "why me" when it comes to taking risks when others aren't. To this, Major Danby asks Yossarian, "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way", to which Yossarian replies, "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"
Another theme is the turning on their heads of notions of what people generally think of as morally right or wrong, particularly patriotism and honor, which lead most of the Airmen to accept abusive lies and petty rules of bureaucrats, though Yossarian whole-heartedly disregards all such notions. When Major Major asks why he wouldn't fly more missions, Yossarian answers:
"That's nothing to be ashamed of," Major Major counseled him kindly. "We're all afraid."
"I'm not ashamed," Yossarian said. "I'm just afraid."
Several themes flow into one another, for example, "that the only way to survive such an insane system is to be insane oneself", is partially a take on Yossarian's answer to the Social dilemma (that he would be a fool to be any other way); and another theme, "that bad men (who sell out others) are more likely to get ahead, rise in rank, and make money", turns our notions of what is estimable on their heads as well.
As the novel progresses, Yossarian comes to fear American bureaucrats more than he fears the Germans attempting to shoot down his bomber; he feels that a majority of people are "out to get him", regardless of their nominal allegiance. Among the reasons Yossarian fears his commanders more than the enemy is that, as he flies more missions, the number of missions required before he can go home is continually increasing: he is always approaching the magic number, but he never reaches it. He comes to despair of ever getting home and is greatly relieved when he is sent to the hospital for a condition that is almost jaundice. In Yossarian's words: "The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live." (Chapter 12)
heres a list of the remaining Themes/Motifs:
- Sanity and insanity
- Heroes and heroism
- Absurdity and inefficiency of bureaucracy
- Power of bureaucracy
- Questioning/Loss of religious faith
- Impotence of language
- Inevitability of death
- Distortion of justice
- Concept of Catch-22
- Personal integrity
- Capital and its amorality
from my own annalysis of the novel plus a little help from a friend (not wiki--->), yes i know wicki isnt the best source but follow the links at the bottom.