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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Book Review

Pure and utter confusion. That’s how I would start explaining this book. This book is an absolute chaos of many different characters, plotlines and themes. Symbolically it shows the chaos of war. How in war times nothing that should make sense, makes sense anymore. The whole disorder of the book brings a breath of fresh air, which will make you go: ‘wait, what?’

            The story is about a bombardier named Yossarian, whose only wish is to return home from the war, except he is unable to do so because the coronel of his squadron keeps raising the missions. During the book he tries many different schemes to try and be sent home. But whenever he almost succeeds, there is always a catch: Catch-22. The point is this: whatever your options are, whatever you try to do, it always makes you do what it wants you to do: fly more missions.

            While coming up with the many ideas to escape the war, we follow many different characters all with their different agendas. The absurdities with the characters are played out in very amusing way. The pure insanity of the war is reflected in the characters. They make less sense than when the book started and even less sense than when the book ends. If that makes sense… Insanity is contagious, and it is the struggle of the one sane man who is trying to escape the asylum.

            The mere fact that the Catch-22 gig, made it to the mainstream, is proof of the impact of the novel. The atheist Christopher Hitchens even mimicked the title when he tried to proof that God didn’t exist: Hitch-22 (good read for atheists). As a critique of the war it is highly influential and meaningful (for all that I know about the war). It is one of those classics that should be read once. Sometimes it’s a real drag but it gets better over time while you read it. It’s definitely worth a shot. I mean, you haven’t really got a choice, you see, there’s a catch…

By elenchusphilosophy

I'm a Philosophy student in Belgium, trying to talk and write about ideas of all kinds of sorts.

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