essay on lunacies of catch-22 Term Paper

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Joseph Heller, in his Catch-22, satirizes the lunacies and catches

of war and the military. This world which Yossarian and Milo inhabit is a

game to be played very carefully. That the craziness of war is a game can

be supported by the fact that Milo and Yossarian both win, but each having

and utilizing a different strategy. "Milo and Yossarian came from

fundamentally different con-man traditions, both pressed into new extremes.

The contrast in styles can be summed up by saying that Milo is serious but

covert and that Yossarian is open but playful."

Throughout the novel, Milo makes headway by his manipulations and

fast talk. He makes himself invaluable to Colonel Cathcart by forcing him

to realize that he is irreplaceable. He manipulates himself into a

position of acting as a lifeline to the base by appealing to the weaknesses

of his superior officers. Cunningly he maneuvers himself into power and

becomes the most influential person in the entire scope of operations.

However, he loses the sense of the game; he becomes so wrapped up in

gaining position, he loses his sense of awareness and becomes singularly

concerned with money and power.

Yossaarian, on the other hand, remains openly defiant of the game

but succeeds at it because of his playfulness. He attends a march stark

naked, openly aborts missions, and obviously fakes illness to escape "the

game." In doing this he makes his points and accomplishes his goals but

only because of his playfulness. Yossarian made real headway upon his

temporary repression of his ideals and principles but realizing his mistake

changed his mind. He could not manipulate his beliefs as Milo does but

could not advance with open, serious defiance and strict adherence to his

principles. Yossarian sacrificed his only straightforward chance to escape

the crazy "game" because of his beliefs.

The craziness of this game and the winding paths that Yossarian and

Milo follow to no particular end are what signified Catch-22 as a classic

anti-realistic novel. Both characters are thrust into the same situation

and are forced to make the best of it. The choices they make and the

routes they follow through life determine their outcome.

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