Catch-22: Book Review and Review Term Paper

Total Length: 1158 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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If one states one is anti-capitalist, yet still attempts to make money and purchase comfortable accessories to one's lifestyle, one is accused of being a hypocrite and holding up the cultural values of society even more than one who tries to 'live the life' of the ideal executive apprentice.

Similarly, in the novel, Yossarin finds that resistance is futile over the course of the conflict he suffers, for in the language of the military and because he is already locked within the system after being conscripted, all of his intellectual resistance is interpreted with a language that encourages him to sacrifice his life for the goal of the wartime cause, at all costs. When he resists, he helps the enemy, he does not help the cause of humanity, when he fights he kills human beings, but this is supposed to be good for the cause of humanity, because it serves the army cause.

Thus, war in essence, sheds one of one's private language and life, to create one's own system of values. But this aspect of the military is similar to many other spheres and facets of society that create insular cultures of their own devising, and lock participants in, once entrapped, within a particular system of meaning from which they cannot escape. Much like gender, as well as the corporate climate of business, where an individual can supposedly resist gender dichotomies by dressing in 'drag,' he or she is always speaking the language of gender, either by dressing up as a woman or as a man, because one has to use the terms of gender that are comprehensible to one's particular culture.
Even by acting out against the culture, one is subject to it. To show that a man doesn't have to 'be masculine,' he must be feminine -- there is no neutral.

This enclosed logic is most evident when Yossarian says to Cornel Clevinger that while Clevinger can only talk about winning the war; he is talking about winning the war and keeping alive, which is, to Yossarian, the only cause really worth fighting for. But Clevinger answers Yossarian, scoffing, "and which do you think is more important?" Life or winning the war -- to Clevinger, evidently, winning the war is more important, even though as Yossarian points our in response, it makes little difference who wins a war to someone who is dead.

In other words, the only way offered 'out' of the system of military double speak, of Catch-22 is to die and to render one's self useless to the fighting army, but also useless to one's self as an individual, human entity. To not speak in military doublespeak one must lose one's voice entirely to death. Once a soldier has been taken up in the language of warfare, all that matters is the destruction of the supposed enemy, not even his own life, even though supposedly the war is being fought for the preservation of all humanity, and Yossarian, like all of his fellow fighters, is a human being.

Work Cited

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Simon & Schuster. Reprint 1996......

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