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An Analysis Of The Absurd In Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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In the novel Catch-22, Joseph Heller presents the absurd as a completely normal and usual occurrence in Yossarian’s tumultuous world. Throughout the course of the novel, he develops each character around their response to this absurdity—Dunbar does boring things to make the time pass slower and to live longer, Orr practices crash landing his planes so that he can fake his death to escape, and Nately finds love with a prostitute to keep his mind away from the ridiculousness of it all. Overall, Heller’s absurd novel mainly serves to display the individual’s right to seek survival despite the rules set on them by society. Catch-22 takes place within an authoritative military environment, led by one principle: the Catch-22, an excuse for everything…show more content…
If he flew [the missions] he was crazy and didn’t have to, but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to” (46). The simplicity of this rule resonated with the men, but as time went on, the rule became more stretched and incorporated more things that the authorities wanted the officers to do. When Yossarian wants to go home because he has completed the number of missions he is assigned, the Catch-22 is thrown back in his face, stating that he can’t go home because “Catch-22 says you’ve always got the do what your commanding officer tells you to” (58). The Catch-22 extends into all rulings and reasons behind the commanding officers’ decisions; whether or not the soldiers understand the rule or not, they dare not question or fight back because they are either insane or silenced by the system. In the face of this absurd rule, the officers that face it must use equally absurd and insane tactics to battles its effects on them. Dunbar’s peculiarity is introduced in the first chapter of the novel—along with being Yossarian’s best friend, he is obsessed with lengthening his life. While trying to live longer is not necessarily a strange concept, Dunbar tries to complete this task by “cultivating boredom;” in fact, Yossarian thinks that
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