To What Extent is Marxist Criticism Helpful in Opening Up Potential Meanings in CATCH 22?

1492 WordsJul 13, 20186 Pages
A Marxist reading enables the critic to see Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, as not simply an anti-war novel but a satirical representation of the absurdity of American bureaucracy and capitalism, and thus shows the extent to which the situation at the time was of concern to Heller. The novel takes place in Italy during World War II and the novel follows Yossarian who is a part of an air squadron yet Heller confirms that “The elements that inspired the ideas came to me from the civilian situation in this country in the 1950s”. Marxist literary criticism claims writers are formed by their social contexts. Indeed, Heller’s social and political climate formed Catch 22, which Heller criticizes the complacent attitude towards profiteering at the…show more content…
Indeed, the soldiers are dehumanised to the point that they are considered property, “It certainly is not your leg! […]. That leg belongs to the U.S. government. It’s no different than a gear or a bed pan”. Yossarian is reduced to the equivalent of a “bedpan”, the lowest of the low, a humiliating comparison. Such an allusion to a vulgar object demonstrates the impersonality and callous inhumanity of war, where courage, bravery and humans themselves account for little. Yossarian here is illustrated as a mere production unit, a ‘worker’. Marxist critics argue that capitalism, which dominates US politics, turns peoples into things, it reifies them. In Marxist terms, such a capitalist mode of production generates a materialistic view of the world, in which ultimately all of us function as objects and become alienated from ourselves. Yossarian cannot go home because his superiors require him for their own personal gain, and it makes no difference what justification they might give for making him stay. The rest of Yossarian’s squadron has a ‘false consciousness’; they are accepting of the overbearing military system, ironically calling Yossarian, “crazy”. “They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told him calmly. Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone". “And what difference does that

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