Catch 22 Literary Analysis

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How do writers present the physical and emotional suffering of war in Catch-22 and a selection of poetry? In any war, the side which causes the opposition to surrender is hailed the winner. But what specifically causes a side to surrender? Suffering. War is a state of conflict which is built around the concepts of psychological and physical suffering. It is safe to say that war is the epitome of suffering. The side which inflicts enough suffering to eventually lead their opponents into a state of detriment is the victor. In most pieces of war literature, it is apparent that the physical and psychological suffering of the characters is presented clearly, being able to produce a vivid image in the readers’ heads based on the ambience of the…show more content…
Regarded as “A Masterpiece” by the Guardian and “Fantastically Unique” by Financial Times, the novel (put simply) displays the physical and psychological struggle of a young squadron bomber who repeatedly fakes an illness to avoid being killed in the war. Catch-22 consists of various themes including: death, insanity, (anti) heroism, absurdity and individual vs society, all of which stem from the main theme of the book, suffering. In this book, although not specifically said, it is evident that there is not a single character who doesn’t suffer throughout, whether it be physical or psychological. The basis of this novel which sets its tone of absurdity, are the emphasis of “catches” in the entirety of the book. For example, the first introduced catch in this novel stated that “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions”. Although this was intended as dark humour, there is a deeper meaning behind it, which is the god-like abilities the generals have, the ability to send those people who don’t want to die to their deaths. The term “Catch-22” now (due to the book) means “a paradoxical situation from which a person cannot…show more content…
The protagonist of the novel, John Yossarian would originally be described by most people as “crazy” due to the fact that he states that everyone is “shooting at” him and “trying to kill” him. Although not stated explicitly by Heller, this paranoia could be a sign of early symptom PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which only worsens when he sees his colleague’s (Snowden) guts fall out into a “soggy pile”. In both World Wars, many soldiers which showed symptoms of PTSD saw their comrades die a horrendous death, right in front of their eyes. Therefore this alludes to the fact that seeing physical suffering causes psychological suffering, therefore the two states of suffering are directly

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