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566 Joseph Heller: Catch-22

“Catch-22” is a satirical novel that exposes the absurdity and futility of war through the experiences of a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier during World War II.



"Catch-22" is a satirical novel by Joseph Heller that takes place during World War II and follows the experiences of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier stationed in Italy. The book explores the absurdity and illogical nature of war through dark humor and paradoxical situations. The central concept of "Catch-22" is a bureaucratic rule that prevents soldiers from escaping dangerous situations. According to the rule, a soldier can be deemed insane if they willingly continue to fly dangerous missions, but if they request to be removed from duty due to the risks, it shows rational thinking and therefore they cannot be considered insane. Through Yossarian's perspective, Heller satirizes the military bureaucracy, explores the dehumanizing effects of war, and challenges the notions of heroism and patriotism. "Catch-22" is a critical examination of war, power, and the human condition, highlighting the absurdity and paradoxes inherent in human institutions.


  1. Title: Catch-22 
  2. Author: Joseph Heller 
  3. Publishing Year: 1961 
  4. Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
  5. Length in Hours: 19 hrs and 58 mins


5 main ideas

  1. Absurdity of War: "Catch-22" exposes the senseless and illogical nature of war, highlighting the paradoxes, contradictions, and absurdities faced by soldiers and the bureaucratic system.
  2. Dehumanization: The novel depicts the dehumanizing effects of war on individuals, showing how it strips them of their humanity, morality, and individuality.
  3. Power of Bureaucracy: Heller satirizes the military bureaucracy, showcasing how bureaucratic rules and regulations can override reason and morality, leading to a lack of accountability and an erosion of individual rights.
  4. Paradox and Irony: The book is replete with paradoxical situations and ironic twists, emphasizing the contradictory nature of war and the human condition.
  5. Critique of Heroism and Patriotism: Heller challenges traditional notions of heroism and patriotism, questioning the glorification of war and the blind loyalty expected of soldiers.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Sure, that's what I mean," Doc Daneeka said. "A little grease is what makes this world go round. One hand washes the other. Know what I mean?"
  2. "The important thing was to stay alive and keep from getting your nose broken; he had decided that after the first day."
  3. "That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left."
  4. "Yossarian decided to treat himself to a celebration in the hospital the day he escaped from combat duty. The doctors were going to wait until he stopped running a temperature of 104."
  5. "It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt."
  2. "The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on."
  3. "You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!"
  4. "He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it."
  5. "They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly. "No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried. "Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.

5 dilemmas

  1. The Catch-22 Dilemma: The paradoxical rule that traps Yossarian and other soldiers, creating a moral dilemma of choosing between self-preservation and following orders.
  2. Loyalty versus Self-Preservation: Yossarian faces the dilemma of remaining loyal to his fellow soldiers and risking his life or seeking ways to survive and escape the dangers of war.
  3. Moral Responsibility in War: The characters grapple with the dilemma of their moral responsibility in a war they consider unjust and senseless.
  4. Freedom of Expression versus Censorship: The novel explores the dilemma of freedom of expression in the face of censorship and the suppression of ideas.
  5. Individual Autonomy versus Bureaucratic Control: Yossarian and others struggle with the dilemma of maintaining their individuality and autonomy in a system that prioritizes conformity and blind obedience.

5 examples

  1. Winston Churchill - Yossarian mentions Churchill in a conversation about the senselessness of war and the contradictory strategies employed by leaders.
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt - The character General Dreedle refers to Roosevelt while discussing the irrationality of military decisions and the hypocrisy of wartime propaganda.
  3. Mickey Mouse - Yossarian recalls seeing Mickey Mouse parachutes used in the war effort, symbolizing the juxtaposition of innocence and violence.
  4. Edgar Allan Poe - The character Orr refers to Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Gold-Bug" as a metaphor for the elusive nature of the truth.
  5. Joseph Stalin - Yossarian mentions Stalin in a discussion about the manipulative tactics used by leaders to maintain control and power.

Referenced books

  1. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  2. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway
  3. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. "The Naked and the Dead" by Norman Mailer

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"It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead."

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