“Catch – 22… is neither apocalyptic nor a masterpiece, but a tendentious burlesque, founded upon a peculiarly subjective view of historical reality”. (Bloom). To what extent do you agree with this opinion? In response to this statement, which is Bloom’s opinion on Joseph Heller’s Catch – 22, it can be said that it can both be agreed with and disagreed with. Catch – 22 is obviously, “a masterpiece” as even in today’s society it shows relevance, and it is still be read all over the world by millions of people.
Although, it can be concluded from Catch – 22 that Joseph Heller’s personal experience of war had a great impact on who the book itself was written, and who Heller thought the advantageous people were and who the victims were during the war. Thus, him being a man who took part in the war influenced him to write this anti-war novel, Catch – 22. Therefore, it can be agreed with that Catch – 22 is mostly, “founded upon a… subjective view of historical reality”, as Joseph Heller was affected by the war and other people in higher ranks than him in the war just like the characters in his book, one example being, “Yossarian”.
Heller served as a bombardier in the 448th squadron in the U. S. Air Force in World War II. When reading Catch – 22 it can be depicted that Heller may use “Yossarian” to portray himself in the war as “Yossarian” too was a bombardier in Catch – 22. Heller emphasises throughout the novel that due to selfish men in the army like “Colonel Cathcart”, who “raised the number of missions to sixty-five” more men were dying as a result.
This seems to be one of the many ways that Heller condemns the military force, especially the men in higher ranks, for being heartless and killing innocent men by raising the number of missions. It may also be influenced by the number of missions he flew during his time as a bombardier, as he too flew more than sixty missions. Heller repeatedly satirises the military force and how they deal with drastic or not so drastic situations. One example being, “Doc Daneeka’s” death in Catch – 22, (although he did not really die at all in the novel).
It can be seen that “Colonel Cathcart”, lacks compassion when he hears about the death as he, “increased the number of missions to seventy”, which seems totally irresponsible as more men will be killed as the more and more the number of missions increase. Heller also states that, “Sergeant Towser brushed away a tear and struck Doc Daneeka’s name from the roster of squadron personnel,” this shows Heller’s attack on the senior officers in the military force.
Another example being, “General Dreedle’s” want to shoot “Danby” for moaning Heller’s portrayal of the senior officers in the military force shows them as being incompetent and irresponsible. This obviously is portrayed through, “Milo Minderbinder”, who uses his power to create the, “M & M Syndicate”, to use it to make profit out of the war, to increase his personal wealth. Heller portrays how, “Milo” uses outrageous schemes such as trading all the men’s silk parachutes for eggs, and suggesting that the soldiers ate chocolate-covered cotton in order to cut back food expenses.
Heller shows through, “Milo” the element of greed in World War II. Which can be related to Adolph Hitler’s greed of ruling the world, and never being satisfied with which parts of the countries he had already dominated. These examples of how Heller portrays characters in Catch – 22 show how the novel is affected by Heller’s personal views on the war and the military force, especially how the characters who hold high positions in the military force are unprofessional, irresponsible and also quite inhumane.
“Catch – 22″… is neither apocalyptic nor s masterpiece”, has to be disagreed with. Catch – 22 is both “apocalyptic” and “a masterpiece” as it allows modern day readers to realise how traumatic and “insane” the war and the people taking in part in it actually was. It allows the modern reader to identify with men such as “Yossarian”, whose only battle is his fight to stay alive during the war and get back home in one piece never mind fighting for their country.
When, “Yossarian” wants, “Doc Daneeka” to, “ground” him so he does no have to fly and he is told the only way he can be grounded is if he is crazy, he tells, “Doc Daneeka” he is crazy! “Doc Daneeka” tells him, “there is a catch… Catch – 22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn’t really crazy. ” Heller show how the bureaucratic trap is accepted by naive soldiers apart from “Yossarian” who seems to be the only one in the novel who can see the whole insanity of the situation.
Heller sees the military force as taking away a soldier’s individuality. He sees the military force being able to make the soldiers do what they want. The military forces make the soldiers do what they want them to do, and make them believe in the insane system as oppose to it. Heller uses this tactic ironically as the American military air force is using the same kind of mentality as Adolph Hitler, who used propaganda to make the people of Germany do as he pleased; thus resulting in six million Jewish people being killed.
This also allows the reader to identify with the happenings in Catch – 22 as it can be related to the Holocaust and also the modern day wars such as the war that happened just recently in Iraq including Saddam Hussein. Catch – 22 does not seem to be, “a peculiarly subjective view of historical reality”, because Heller is telling his own opinions on the war through Catch – 22 and its characters as he, himself experienced it.
It can be said that Heller may have dramatised all his satirical writings of the novel. He only done this, however, to emphasise to the readers how people fighting in the war seemed to fight among their own men to win the battle of death not defeating each and every one of them. For example, when “Yossarian” had to tell the doctors that he had a “pain” in his “liver”, so they would keep him in hospital and not discharge him, so he would not have to fly any more missions, and run the risk of being killed.
This is one of Heller’s many attacks on the medical side of the military air force, he also felt quite strongly that these medicinal people did not do their jobs to the best of their ability or were just not trained enough at all! Catch – 22 is obviously, “a masterpiece” due to it being translated into more than a dozen languages and more than ten million copies being sold world wide. Then also. Paramount Pictures, made a movie out of Catch – 22 nearly ten years after Heller wrote it in 1961; the movie was made in 1970. With Bloom calling Catch – 22 a “tendentious burlesque” has to be agreed with and disagreed with.
Heller obviously intended for Catch – 22 to be full of satire, hypocrisy, bureaucracy, and the “sins of wealth”, because he wanted his readers to be aware of how much people who lived and fought in the war had such a terrible life. Although, Heller also wanted to make a mockery of those in the war who only lived for money and power. Example being, “Milo Mindbinder” and his schemes to even blow up his own military force and, “Colonel Cathcart”, who kept raising the number of missions, even though he knew more of his men would be killed every time he raised the number of missions!
Overall, it can be said that it is agreeable that Joseph Heller’s, Catch – 22 is “a masterpiece” even though he did create his book to be in unorganised chaos, and not in chronological order. Heller still got his opinions on war across to the readers, whether they are modern day readers or readers of past decades. He allowed his opinions to become very realistic; meaning that his own experience affected the way in which he wrote his novel and who he had prejudices against.
Yet, he still gave space for the readers to conjure up their own depiction on the war in their own minds, and also allowed space for their own opinions. Even though, Heller’s words are still very persuasive as we know that he, himself took part in the war and seen the goings on for himself. Finally, Bloom’s opinion was both agreeable with and disagreeable with. Bloom did not seem to appreciate that through Heller’s own personal experience of the war he had seen and been affected by the war.
He too had been ill-treated by men in a higher status than him. This certainly did effect how Heller presented his characters in Catch – 22. Heller intended to also show the “tendentious burlesque” that occurred during the war in the military force, whether it was through colonels, nurses, doctors, doctors wives or families belonging to those who served in the army base. By Heller adding satirical writing and mockery of the American Air Force to his novel, made Catch – 22 a comical, more interesting and appreciating read.