Essay Instructions: After reading a novel Catch-22, this essay should show some part of the novel that particularly interested you. The novel is available at local public library. Thank you.
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: Fiction Essay
Comparative Analysis with Research
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
Direction: Develop a comparative analysis in which you evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of Mike Nichols 1970 film adaptation of Joseph Heller’s 1955 novel, Catch-22. Include outside sources to respond to whichever combination of topics you choose to write about in your essay.
List of potential topics:
a) Tone: Heller’s novel employs what is sometimes referred to as “black humor, a kind of gallows humor that is dark, ironic, comical, and cynical and that allows both the author and his readers to emotionally distance themselves from the horrors and terror of war through laughter or some weirdly inappropriate behavior or comment. Question: How does Heller employ this “black humor” in his novel and how effective is Nichol’s incorporation of this sort of humor in his film adaptation. Does the humor come across differently in the two versions of the story? If so, how so? Is one version more effective in your estimation, and why? What have critics said about “black humor” in the novel? Did film critics like Nichols’ use of humor in the film?
b) Characterization: How does Heller use narration and dialogue to put flesh on his characters and develop them into uniquely distinct human beings? How effective is Nichols in directing his cast and bring Heller’s characters to life? How would you compare some of the key characters from novel to film? Did you prefer the novelistic versions or their filmic counterparts? What did film critics say about the comic portrayals under Nichols’ direction?
c) Plot and structure. Any translation of a novel to film usually requires significant changes, many having to do with the limited running time of a feature film. Sometimes the order and sequencing of events must be rethought, and characters can be altered, or dropped altogether. Since Heller’s novel is already somewhat nonlinear, utilizing flashbacks and forwards, and circular patterns of action and dialogue, how would evaluate what you think Heller was trying to do with this narrative structure and how effective do you think Nichols was in importing this structure into the film?
Thematic analysis: What would you determine to be Heller’s major themes in his novel and how does he develop them? Catch-22 has been considered an anti-war novel. Thematically, what do you think Heller is trying to say about war and how effective is Nichols in translating Heller’s theme and vision of the world in his film adaptation? Did film critics feel Nichols successfully translated Heller’s vision and theme into the film?
The title of Heller’s novel, Catch-22, has become a popular expression to describe life’s ironic double-blinds, situations in which one’s actions are stymied by two opposing forces that render one helpless. Psychologically, Heller’s work has been linked to the anti-psychiatry movement whose core concept, popularized by the writing of R.D. Lating, is that “insanity is a sane response to an insane world,” or that to survive the missed messages of a schizophrenic culture, one has to become “stark raving sane.” Using textual evidence from both the novel and film, how does each work represent the psychological effects of war on Yossarian, the novel’s protagonis? How is psychology employed in the story as a critique of society and the difficulty of maintaining a rational and sane existence in the world? What have critics written on this topic?
What do we know about the conditions facing bombardiers in WWII? What historical parallels can be found between the escalating number of missions Yossarian and his fellow servicemen must fly and the situation facing troops in Iraq? Yossarian is upset that he cannot be treated for his emotional problems due to the war because he is trapped in a Catch-22. What do we know about the history of post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of military combat and to what extent do similar conditions exist for those servicemen dealing with the psychological aftermath of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Wars often make great profit for some while proving costly to the lives of those who fight them. How odes Heller develop the theme of profiteering on war in the novel? Are there class issues involved? Does Heller’s use of humor and irony seem to be a critique of the not so hidden agenda of those who profit during wartime? Are there any parallels to the administration of the Iraq war? Did reviewers take exception with the politics of the novel and the film?
How are women depicted in the novel and the film? Do these depictions suggest gender stereotyping? As presented in this story, how is human sexuality and intimacy impacted by the conditions of war?
Catch-22 is one in a long line of wartime narratives that date back to the Homeric tales, the Iliad and the Odysse, to the more recent poems and novels of the past and present century. How does Heller’s novel compare and contrast with other such works? What have critics said about this novel in relationship to literary works that explore the conditions and effects of war on those who must fight them?
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: Read The English Patient novel and discuss at least three aspects of world war Ondaatje focuses on that have not been dealt with by other authors in the following novels "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemmingway, "Regeneration" by Pat Parker and "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque. And then view the film of The English Patient and compare it to the novel in an effort to elucidate the main ways in which the film differs from the novel as well as any ways the film enhances the aesthetic impact of the book.
Excerpt From Essay:
Essay Instructions: #5--From Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (1955)
(New York: Dell Publishing, Inc., 1963)
After he made up his mind to spend the rest of the war in the hospital, Yossarian wrote letters to everyone he knew saying that he was in the hospital but never mentioning why. One day he had a better idea. To everyone he knew he wrote that he was going on a very dangerous mission. "They asked for volunteers. It's very dangerous, but someone has to do it. "I'll write you the instant I get back." And he had not written anyone since.
All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were kept in residence in wards of their own. It was a monotonous job, and Yossarian was disappointed to learn that the lives of enlisted men were only slightly more interesting than the lives of officers. After the first day he had no curiosity at all. To break the monotony he invented games. Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a, an, and the. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt, and in just about every case left a message far more universal. Soon he was proscribing parts of salutations and signatures and leaving the text untouched. One time he blacked out all but the salutation "Dear Mary" from a letter, and at the bottom he wrote, "I yearn for you tragically. A.T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army." A.T. Tappman was the group chaplain's name.
When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks of his wrist as though he were God. Catch-22 required that each censored letter bear the censoring officer's name. Most letters he didn't read at all. On those he didn't read at all he wrote his own name. On those he did read he wrote, "Washington Irving." When that grew monotonous he wrote, "Irving Washington." Censoring the envelopes had serious repercussions, produced a ripple of anxiety on some ethereal military echelon that floated a C.I.D. man back into the ward posing as a patient. They all knew he was a C.I.D. man because he kept inquiring about an officer named Irving or Washington and because after his first day there he wouldn't censor letters. He found them too monotonous. (8-9)
#6--From "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and Other Stories--Carson McCullers
(New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1951;rpt. 1971)
"The Ballad of the Sad Cafe"
The town itself is dreary; not much is there except the cotton mill, the two-room houses where the workers live, a few peach trees, a church with two colored windows, and a miserable main street only a hundred yards long. On Saturdays the tenants from the near-by farms come in for a day of talk and trade. Otherwise the town is lonesome, sad, and like a place that is far off and estranged from all other places in the world. The nearest train stop is Society City, and the Greyhound and White Bus Lines use the Forks Falls Road which is three miles away. The winters here are short and raw, the summers white with glare and fiery hot.
If you walk along the main street on an August afternoon there is nothing whatsoever to do. The largest building, in the very center of the town, is boarded up completely and leans so far to the right that it seems bound to collapse at any minute. The house is very old. There is about it a curious, cracked look that is very puzzling until you suddenly realize that at one time, and long ago, the right side of the front porch had been painted, and part of the wall--but the painting was left unfinished and one portion of the house is darker and dingier than the other. The building looks completely deserted. Nevertheless, on the second floor there is one window which is not boarded; sometimes in the late afternoon when the heat is at its worst a hand will slowly open the shutter and a face will look down on the town. It is a face like the terrible dim faces known in dreams--sexless and white, with two gray crossed eyes which are turned inward so sharply that they seem to be exchanging with each other one long and secret gaze of grief. The face lingers at the window for an hour or so, then the shutters are closed once more, and as likely as not there will not be another soul to be seen along the main street. These August afternoons--when your shift is finished, there is absolutely nothing to do; you might as well walk down to the Forks Falls Road and listen to the chain gang.
However, here in this very town there was once a cafe. And this old boarded-up house was unlike any other place for many miles around. There were tables with cloths and paper napkins, colored streamers from the electric fans, great gatherings on Saturday nights. The owner of the place was Miss Amelia Evans. But the person most responsible for the success and gaiety of the place was a hunchback called Cousin Lymon. One other person had a part in the story of this cafe--he was the former husband of Miss Amelia, a terrible character who returned to the town after an long term in the penitentiary, caused ruin, and then went on his way again. The cafe has long since been closed, but it is still remembered.
The place was not always a cafe. Miss Amelia inherited the building from her father, and it was a store that carried mostly feed, guano, and staples such as meal and snuff. Miss Amelia was rich. In addition to the store she operated a still three miles back in the swamp, and ran out the best liquor in the county. She was a dark, tall woman with
bones and muscles like a man. Her hair was cut short and brushed back from the forehead, and there was about her sunburned face a tense, haggard quality. She might have been a handsome woman if, even then, she was not slightly cross-eyed. There were those who would have courted her, but Miss Amelia cared nothing for the love of men and was a solitary person. Her marriage had been unlike any other marriage ever contracted in this county--it was a strange and dangerous marriage, lasting only for ten days, that left the whole town wondering and shocked. Except for this queer marriage, Miss Amelia had lived her life alone. Often she spent whole nights back in her shed in the swamp, dressed in overalls and gum boots, silently guarding the low fire of the still.
Read the two passages (from Catch-22 and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe) and then write a 2-page analysis of each excerpt.
* An analysis of this type focuses on the literary characteristics of the text you have read. So to formulate essay, utilize the "Useful Terms" page contained in this unit. Some of these terms (e.g., "Setting" are quite general, so they can provide topics for body paragraphs in your essays. Other terms (e.g., "Image") are specific, so they can be the details in those paragraphs. You can also address other concepts, such as Character, which do not appear in the list.
* You will thus produce two short essays--one for each passage.
USEFUL TERMS: Note: You will have to use them for the Assignment!!!!
1) Setting: The physical, psychological, and sometimes spiritual background against which the action of a narrative (novel, drama,short story, poem) takes place. Setting can include the time and location of the narrative, as well as the general environment in which characters live (e.g.,
religious, mental, moral, social and emotional conditions).
2) Imagery: "Word pictures" in a literary work. These are
achieved by appealing to the 5 senses. Thus the basic types of images include:
* Visual (Sense of sight)
* Auditory (Sense of hearing)
* Tactile (Sense of touch)
* Olfactory (Sense of smell)
* Gustatory (Sense of taste)
3) Symbol: An image that evokes an objective, concrete
reality and has that reality suggest another meaning. There are 2 broad types of symbols:
A) Universal: Flowing water=time & eternity. A voyage=Life
B) Variable: Changes according to the literary work. What does the rain in A Fare-well to Arms suggest?
4) Allusion: A figure of speech that makes brief reference to a historical or literary figure, event, or object. This
type of reference is usually indirect and constitutes a compliment to the reader. The author assumes you will get it. Example: Washington Irving--in the Catch-22 passage in this unit.
5) Foreshadowing: Events or objects which act as premo-
nitions of future events or actions (just like clues in a detective story). Be patient--You might not recognize Foreshadowing until you finish the story and read back through it.
6) Tone: Attitude toward a subject and towards the audience
implied in a literary work. Possible labels are infinite;
examples include: formal, informal, solemn, playful,
ironic, condescending. Sometimes used to refer to the mood of a literary work (e.g., dark or somber).
7) Irony: Most often used to recognize the difference between appearance & reality. A speaker may say one thing
but mean the opposite. Likewise, a character with heated emotions may speak in a cool, detached fashion.
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