This novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces b-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yoassarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.
Like many of the other classics that I have talked about on my blog, it’s been a while since I’ve read this but I remember it being a good read.
I can’t say I loved it but I also can’t say that I didn’t like it either. The writing was brilliant, the characters are so unique and it is just overall a very engaging and memorable story that will leave you with that wonder and awe feeling.
I can say for certain that this was probably one of the most anti-war books that I have probably ever read. There is no doubt in my mind either that it is probably one of the….most interesting (for lack of better words), novels written about the US Air Force in WW II today. I don’t want to give anything away for anyone that might want to read this in the future (if you haven’t already read it that is). But this wildly original, brilliantly written, brutally gruesome novel will suck you in…or at least it sucked me in all those years ago.
I will warn you though, do not come to this book seeking logic or sanity in war, neither of those things have a connection or a place in Catch-22…or in real life if you think about it. However, Catch-22 is realistic in its powerful accounts of bombing missions. Men screaming, men dying, planes crashing. But don’t get me wrong it also has its fantasy side.
Catch – 22 has a way of giving off a comedic/ tragedy vibe. The book oscillates between the absurdly humorous and grieving tragedy.
Have you ever heard someone say “It’s a Catch-22” and thought…what?? Well let me try to break it down for you. In the novel, the hero who has flown 50 different missions, and has been driven half-mad by his will to live…wants out. However, he is thwarted by the Catch-22 clause which states:
“Pilots do not have to fly if they are certified as insane, but that being driven mad by fear is fundamentally rational.”
Or as it’s described in the novel: “Pilots do not have to fly if they are certified as insane, but being driven mad by fear is fundamentally rational. Or one would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.” So basically…no one can get off the ride. It’ like a merry-go-round that just won’t stop.
If you pay enough attention you can catch the gleeful repetition. Words and phrases are continuously paired up so that nothing an reside in meaning something. Everything, instead is mocked by it’s own echo. This continuous throughout the novel, leading up to the inevitable plunge into emptiness at the end of this novel.
Have you read Catch-22? What did you think of it???