Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, involves a soldier by the name of Yossarian, who is capable of seeing through the controlling society around him. He is involved in the Second World War but does not know why, and this frustrates him.
The battlefield is as deadly as ever and Yossarian is sick of blindly attempting to kill. He feels that he will die one of these days and does not know why he continues to fight.
The novel starts with Yossarian in the hospital and one who is in the hospital avoids the fight. Yossarian loves his life dearly and believes that he is smarter than those around him. Pretending to be ill Yossarian succeeds in skipping many battles.
In the hospital Yossarian censors letters of other soldiers, but he soon grows tired of the place and leaves it claiming to be better. Outside of the hospital Yossarian is troubled by many facts; primarily that the number of missions one must fly before returning home has risen, as it always does.
Yossarian flies on bombing missions and hates his job, thus he continually asks the man in charge to let him participate in ground missions. Yossarian has this desire to live and will do anything to avoid being killed and this is a major theme in the novel.
Yossarian is a regular soldier and in the novel regular soldiers hold little power it is the generals who are in true control. In the novel there are many laws and among them is that reading is banned.
Yossarian hates to fly and fears for his life continuously, there are many characters around Yossarin whose stories are told as the novel progresses. Time is another major theme in the novel, because the passing of time leads to death. Some of the characters attempt to slow the passing of time as they continue to fight.
Yossarian’s Colonel continually offers his men to dangerous missions, and Yossarian does all he can to sabotage and delay the flying. Yossarin complains to his Colonel about the fact that the number of missions keeps rising and is brave in his attempt.
There is this guy by the name of Milo who controls much of the illegal trades that take place; and this is just one example of the many types of different characters around Yossarian.
Once Yossarian attempts to switch his identity in order to avoid the flying but is caught by a nurse in the hospital. Yossarian tries many ways to escape the flying, even the killing of his Colonel, but is unsuccessful. All this time the number of missions one must fly to return home keeps rising.
Finally the novel takes Yossarian to Rome where he must find his dead best friend’s, Nately’s, lover and make sure she is safe. He observes horrible deeds and is then arrested for being in Rome without a pass.
Yossarian is sent back to his squadron and then is stabbed by Nately’s lover for informing her about Nately’s death. While in the hospital he receives word that one of his friends have escaped to Sweden and plans to escape as well.
This is how the novel ends, it can be assumed that Yossarian escaped the war and went to peaceful Sweden and lived there for the rest of his days. This novel is not simple by any means, the plot is complicated and there is little entertainment in the reading. It should be read by those who like twisted and complicated themes, and by those who like multiple character stories.