“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller is a satirical novel published in 1961.
It is considered one of the most significant works of 20th-century American literature and a classic of dark humor.
The novel is set during World War II and explores the absurdity, bureaucracy, and moral dilemmas faced by soldiers in wartime.
|Simon & Schuster; Anniversary edition (April 5, 2011)
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Catch-22 Novel summary by Joseph Heller
The story primarily follows Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier stationed in Italy during World War II.
Yossarian and his fellow soldiers are part of a squadron that conducts bombing missions over enemy territory.
However, they face not only the dangers of combat but also the oppressive and illogical rules of military bureaucracy.
The novel’s title, “Catch-22,” refers to a paradoxical rule that traps the soldiers.
It states that a soldier can be considered insane and unfit for duty if they request not to fly dangerous missions.
However, by recognizing the insanity of war and wanting to avoid it, a soldier is deemed sane, making them obligated to continue flying dangerous missions.
This circular logic encapsulates the absurdity and hopelessness of their situation.
As Yossarian and his comrades navigate the horrors of war, they encounter a cast of eccentric and often comically absurd characters, including Colonel Cathcart.
Who continually raises the required number of missions for the soldiers, and Milo Minderbinder, an enterprising and amoral mess officer.
The novel combines dark humor with moments of tragedy and commentary on the dehumanizing effects of war.
Yossarian’s struggle to survive and retain his sanity in a world gone mad becomes the central focus, and the novel’s non-linear narrative style adds to the sense of disorientation and chaos.
Catch-22 Novel summary by Joseph Heller free online read
“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller is a satirical masterpiece that offers a searing critique of the military establishment and the irrationality of war.
“Combining humor, tragedy, and social commentary, this classic resonates by reflecting on bureaucratic absurdities and the human toll of conflict.”
The term “Catch-22” has entered common parlance to describe any situation characterized by a no-win, paradoxical, or self-defeating logic, where the outcome is unfavorable no matter what choice is made.
“Catch-22” is both a war novel and a satire.
Joseph Heller wrote several other novels, including “Something Happened” and “Good as Gold.”