Theme Of Destruction In Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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The development of the human species on earth has created a society centered on disagreement and opposition. The effects of conflict, in the form of warfare, are prominent throughout Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Set during World War II, the novel follows the experiences of John Yossarian, a bombardier in the United States Air Force, whose only ambition is to emerge from the war alive. Heller creates a strong depiction of life during war and emphasizes its destruction of humanity. John F. Kennedy’s claim “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind” is correct as evident through Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22. Catch-22 supports the need for man to eliminate armed conflict by implying that physical destruction in war is inevitable.…show more content…
Catch-22 demonstrates the danger inflicted by fear during war with the attack led by Milo Minderbiner, the American mess hall officer. Milo forges an alliance with the Germans to drop bombs on his own men and proceeds to lead the destruction of American supplies. His actions create panic among the Americans, who flee the squadron in “sheer terror” (Heller 257-258). Milo sabotages his own men for the selfish purpose of benefitting his company. In some cases, the frightening mentality of war is enough for people to take extensive measures to put themselves into the best position for survival. Warfare creates an “every man for himself” mentality, which inhibits humans from being able to successfully work together. Because there exists a strong desire to protect individual interests, the loss of unity increases the danger already associated with war. The ability of mankind to trust one another can only exist when there is no threat of war. Therefore, it is crucial that man end warfare to sustain the ability to function as a united society. In Catch-22, Yossarian demonstrates the effect of fear on his mentality by explaining his attitude toward war. “The enemy … is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on” (Heller 124). Yossarian’s fear compels him to believe that he cannot trust other people, including his own allies. Warfare causes the isolation of…show more content…
During an argument over his participation in the war, Yossarian declares, “Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead” (Heller 123). Often, people who lose their lives during war are not able to experience the euphoria of triumph. Therefore, death inhibits people from observing the result of what they are fighting for. The outcome of the war doesn’t affect the people who die fighting in it, so sacrificing an enormous number of lives is truly unjustified. The innumerable deaths indicate a waste of human capacity which could have been used to improve the world. Rather, humans participate in war and continue to destroy their own potential. In an increasingly competitive society, a species which is not able to progress becomes incapable of retaining prominence. Thus, if humans continue to participate in war, they will quickly lose their position as the dominant species on earth. In effect, the deaths that result from war illustrate the concept that lost potential cannot be overcome by positive results. Even if one side wins a war, many people will have suffered the unnecessary loss of life. Although warfare is used to resolve conflicts, it causes many more problems than it solves. Warfare’s harmful aspects will eventually lead to the complete destruction of mankind. Overall, the significance of the negative outcomes

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