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Catch 22

Uploaded by Lutje22 on Apr 22, 2004

Great pieces of literature are influenced by their author’s life and the times in which they were written. These two factors combine to make literature that is both entertaining and meaningful to readers. Joseph Heller’s outrageously funny and very affecting novel Catch-22 is a perfect example. Heller draws on his past and alludes to events happening during the time in which he wrote to create what the Chicago Sun-Times called “an apocalyptic masterpiece.”
Heller’s past is very evident throughout Catch-22. Joseph Heller grew up in Coney Island, New York, a town famous for its carnival atmosphere and attractions (Biography 1). This environment led to Heller’s satirical and darkly humorous attitude evident in his own life and especially in his writing. Catch-22 is a social satire that utilizes dark humor. In one instance Heller makes a point by joking about death. In his novel he makes the army unable to recognize that Mudd is dead and Doc is alive because they have more faith in the military’s records than the reality of one live body and one dead body (Miller 43). Furthermore, the main character in Catch-22, Yossarian, is essentially based on Heller himself. Heller flew as a bombardier on some sixty combat missions for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. He was stationed on the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea (Moss 66). Similarly, Yossarian is a bombardier during WWII who also is stationed on an island in the Mediterranean Sea (Miller 5). It is through Yossarian that Heller conveys a sense of his own experience in war and his own fear of dying in combat.
The realism and entertaining effect brought by Heller’s use of his own experiences attracted an unlikely audience to his anti-war novel, WWII veterans. Critics said of this, “To veterans of World War II, it was a hilarious reminder of the chaos and disorder that seemed always to hover just beneath the structured surface of military life. To them it was the way things were and it poked fun at the military, it was simply stating the obvious, not grinding an ax” (Catch-22 1). Heller writes humorously of a fight, “He called me a wise guy and punched me right in the nose. ‘What are you a wise guy? he said, and Pow! Just like that.”
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Uploaded by:   Lutje22

Date:   04/22/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (913 words)

Views:   1456

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