Essay on Abuse of Power in Catch-22

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The Abuse of Power Exposed in Catch-22

In 1955, Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22. The story takes place on a small island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy. As the story progresses, it follows the actions of a man named Yosarrian and his companions in his squadron. Many of the men begin with high rank and others are promoted throughout the novel. As these men come into power, one of Heller's themes is explicitly shown; as men achieve power, they become compelled to abuse it.

The story begins with Yosarrian in a hospital. He is there "with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice. The doctors were puzzled by the fact that it wasn't quite jaundice. If it became jaundice they could treat it. If it
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Which one is the scalpel? Is this one the scalpel?' 'No, the other one is the scalpel. Well, go ahead and cut already if you're going to. Make the incision' " (420). The doctors have no regard for Yosarrian's wishes, they just want to do what ever they want. The problem is that they are able to. As doctors, they are assumed to be trustworthy people, but they abuse that trust and use their position of power to do as they please.

One of the most incompetent men in the outfit is Colonel Cathcart. He is a man who is obsessed with improving his own rank at any cost, including the lives of the men he commands. Throughout the story, Colonel Cathcart tries to think up of schemes that could get his picture in The Saturday Evening Post. " 'Maybe if we say prayers, they'll put my picture in The Saturday Evening Post' " (188). Throughout the novel, Colonel Cathcart also raises the number of missions needed to go home. He does this to make his unit look superior to others. He has no regard for the lives of his men, he only thinks of himself. Men like Colonel Cathcart become corrupt with power and crave more of it. They abuse their high rank to promote themselves. They are willing to sacrifice almost anything to make a small gain in power.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf is one of the most absurd characters in Catch-22. He is obsessed with making his men march
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