Catch-22 and the Theme of Death

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Catch-22 and the Theme of Death


There are many ways for a man to die, but there is no way to bring him back after he has entered the world of dead. Catch-22 is a novel satirizing war, and because of this, it inevitably has a strong underlying theme of death. But unlike many war novels, Catch-22 doesn't use violent depictions of fighting or bloody death scenes to denounce the evils of war; it utilizes humor and irony to make an arguably more effective point. And even more importantly, Catch-22 is ultimately a novel about hope, not death. Although the inevitability of death is still a prominent motif, it eventually leads the main character, Yossarian, to realize that the desire to live is important and also that he
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    Yossarian's most startling glimpse into the terrors of war and death comes when he spends a night alone on the streets of Rome. He sees homeless children; he witnesses men beating children and dogs, a rape, and a convulsing soldier; he walks over a street littered with broken human teeth. This is one of the rare sections of the novel that does not use humor to point out the cruelty and inhumanity of the world. The scene comes to a climax when Yossarian returns to his apartment and discovers that Aarfy has raped an innocent maid and then thrown her out his window, leaving her dead on the sidewalk below. Then, ironically, Yossarian is arrested for being in Rome without a pass and Aarfy is given an apology for the disturbance, his hideous crime going unpunished. This chapter is when Yossarian begins to really recognize the true face of the military and the meaning of Catch-22; when he goes to the brothel and the old woman tells him that the girls have all been kicked out of their home by soldiers, she explains to him that "Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing" (417;Ch.39). Catch-22 is the justification for every wrong the military commits, and it overrides every other moral law. The horrors that the military creates will never stop, and Yossarian begins to realize that he cannot fight and die

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