Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Decent Essays

Every eight seconds an innocent human being falls to the ground to their ultimate demise. Death is inevitable and unavoidable. Therefore life must be lived to its fullest. Unfortunately many people do not realize this predetermined fact until they witness a death firsthand. So be the case of the protagonist, Captain Yossarian, in the novel Catch-22. Although surrounded by constant bloodshed and war, Yossarian does not understand the significance of life until his tail gunner, Snowden, is killed on a mission. Through Snowden’s death, the novel’s main themes of the absurdity of language, life, and bureaucracy are illuminated.
Snowden’s tragic death portrays the inefficacy of words. In gory scene of Snowden’s death, Captain Yossarian is left to console “the small tail gunner” (Heller, 446). He repetitively uses the words, “There, there” and tells him “you’re going to be alright” in an effort to comfort the dying young man to no avail of course (Heller, 447). Yossarian’s comments to Snowden are just as pointless and deceitful as the words of Yossarian’s commanding officers. Catch-22 itself is just an assortment of words put together in several sentences that contradicts itself. Words are just words and nothing makes sense. It becomes so bad that the men deceive and carelessly respond to each other, often showing no emotions. This is shown when “Yossarian kept nodding in the co-pilot's seat and tried not to listen as Milo prattled on.” Yossarian is pretending to listen to his

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