ABSURDITY OF CATCH-22 THROUGH COMEDYThe novel, Catch-22, is a comedy about soldiers during World WarII. However, this comic scenes and phrases are quite tragic when theyare thought about, as most things related to war are, which makes thiscomedy completely absurd. The best way to represent this idea isthrough the characters in the book, specifically, Yossarian, Huple, andNatelys whores kid sister and the events that occur with theirthoughts and their actions.Clearly, the main character and one whose life is chieflydescribed, is Yossarian. Yossarian has a slightly sick sense of humorand way of looking at things.
In the first chapter, Heller tells usthat letters sent by the soldiers had to be reviewed in order to preventany secret information going out to the public, or, even worse, to theenemy. Yossarian, from lack of anything better to do, censors all theletters. Sometimes he crosses out everything but a, an and the,sometimes adjectives, whatever he feels like that day. For his finalgag he signs these letters as Washington Irving to totally confuse thereaders of these letters. This is funny, however it is ultimatelytragic. These are the letters that every wife, mother and daughter runsto the mailbox for in order to see that their husbands, fathers and sonsare all right.
This is a letter that could say: Honey, Im cominghome, or I love you. When I come home I want to marry you. Theseletters could change the whole lifestyle of so many people andYossarian alone is tampering with them.
The absurdity of that isimmense.A gag of slightly higher consequence occurred in Chapter 12, whenYossarian decided to move the bomb line over Bologna. What I believe isthe most ridiculous in the whole process was his reason for doing it. Everyone did not want to go on this mission to capture Bologna. Theyprayed the rain would never go away, or that the bomb line wouldmysteriously move, anything just mot to go on this mission. Clevinger,in disbelief at the stupidity of these men, tells Yossarian: Theyreally believe that we wouldnt have to fly that mission tomorrow ifsomeone would only tiptoe up to the map in the middle of the night andmove the bomb line over Bologna. Can you imagine? So Yossarianfigures Why not?.
As hysterical of a joke as this may be, animportant city that was taken by the enemy had to be bombed, and noweverybody thinks that it was captured already. This joke could haveand may have lead to the deaths of innocent people, which is yet notonly absurd but is also catastrophic.Two character that, for me, expressed the highest, but the mosttrue absurdity in life are Huple and Natelys whores kid sister. Thesetwo characters have one thing in common. They both want to be adultstoo fast. Huple is only fifteen, and lied about his age to get into thearmy. The kid sister is twelve years old, but wants to be just like herolder sister and seduce men.
However the absurdity of this is not atall that they want to become older, because everyone at that age does. The absurdity is that the things they want to do as adults are thethings that most adults resent most about being adults. The last thingmost men want to do is to be drafted, and the last thing that most womenwant to do is to become a prostitute in order to support themselves.It is clear that Joseph Heller does not write in a certain patternvisible in the works of other writers. he has his own unique way ofexpressing the absurdity of the universe in a comic way.
This style, inmy mind, is very commendable because he makes us laugh, yet understandthe meaning and maybe even seriousness of the idea he is trying to getacross. The alternative would be to write a tragic novel about men atwar which really would not grab the readers attention as comedies doand as this book did.