Essay on Catch-22

In the novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, satire is used to create strange situations that describe war without the false glory and honor. Heller’s use of satire is directed toward the institutions that make up medicine, the military, and business. This is all taking place on the small island of Pianosa, located in the Mediterranean Sea, towards the end of World War II. It is mainly the struggle of one soldier, Yossarian, to survive the war.

Medicine is one area that is heavily satirized. It is seen as inexact and cruel. Heller tells of men in the squadron seeking refuge from the war in the hospital. An example of which is Yossarian, who fakes a liver ailment to avoid going into battle. Heller also describes the cruelness of medicine with Dr. Daneeka’s assistants. He writes of them painting the soldiers’ gums with a purple gel and administering laxatives to prevent certain illnesses.

The military and its officials are also satirized. The influence of Pfc.Wintergreen, who is only a mail clerk, on the higher ranked officials and the computer mishap that promotes Major Major are perfect examples. Another example includes Catch-22. The lieutenants of the squadron find it necessary to keep raising the missions that the soldiers have to fly before they are allowed to return home. The main office that the lieutenants are supposed to report to say that those extra missions do not have to be flown. The lieutenants, on the other hand, say that the missions have to be flown because of Catch-22.

Heller also satirizes religion. This occurs when Colonel Cathcart is trying to become a general. Colonel Cathcart uses religion to improve his chances of becoming a general. Using religion is Colonel Cathcart’s way of improving his social standing with the other higher ranked officials of the squadron.

Satire in the novel is used to depict the strange situations that are occurring around the character. Satire was successful in bringing Heller’s opinion of certain topics across. For instance, when it comes to war, Heller feels that it is unnecessary and the whole experience of war is ridiculous.

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