Study Guide

Catch-22 Essay

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Felty is a visiting instructor at the College of Charleston. In the following essay, he discusses how Catch-22 explores larger issues of social order and individual responsibility within the context of a war novel.

As most critics recognize, Catch-22 offers more than a critique of World War II, despite its focus on the destructiveness of warfare. Instead, Joseph Heller employs this setting to comment upon the condition of mid-century American life. His satire targets not just the military but all regimental institutions that treat individuals as cogs in a machine. His central character, Yossarian, recognizes the insanity of social institutions that devalue human life and tries to rebel against them, first in minor ways and finally through outright rejection of them. Yet Yossarian is not, as some have contended, an immoral or non-idealistic man. He is a man who responds to human suffering, unlike characters such as Colonel...

(read more from the Critical Essay #1 section)

This section contains 1,534 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Catch-22 Study Guide
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Catch-22 from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.