Controlled Chaos in Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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Oliver Ullman Traci Grimm AP English Literature Catch 22 Research Paper Controlled Chaos in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 Abstract: It took Joseph Heller five years to come up with the almost formless structure of his book Catch-22. But ironically, this is one of the least insane things about the entire novel. The structure of Catch-22 is at first glance superficial and unorganized, but after further analysis creates an almost magically strong effect out of something so jumbled and delicate, almost like a skyscraper made out of houses of cards. In fact, upon close examination virtually every piece of cartoonish humor, sarcastic comment, or seemingly innocent prank points towards deep and meaningful messages interwoven throughout the story. Heller himself even stated that he took out jokes that were just as funny as those in the book, but did not add anything to his overall themes. What were these carefully cultivated messages? Heller used Catch 22 to talk about the lack of control and injustice in war, but primarily in the society he lived in (Reilly 511). He does talk about the incompetency and selfishness of leaders in war, but more powerful are his messages of blatant hypocrisy the cold war society displayed, and the common faults of man. Body Text: Catch 22 is a novel that quite literally laughs in the face of death. This is Heller’s most powerful form of communication in this damning condemnation of cold war America. What makes this book shines is how this absurdity is used, not as a goal, but the means to communicating Catch-22’s messages. Throughout the book, this absurdity and symbolism are used frequently and potently convey messages about this society and war itself. One way that Heller uses absurdity, especially early on, is to satirize bureaucracy. “Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve
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