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The name of the novel I read is Catch- 22 by Joseph Heller. This novels uniqueness makes it hard to classify but I would classify it as an anti-war novel. The main theme of the novel is one of hope and freedom from the barbaric grasp of war. Heller uses World War II as an almost invisible framework in which he places a number of vaguely related stories presented in no particular chronological order, although the final narrative does tie them all together. Catch- 22 was written in a very comical style. It displays the foolishness of wars and the inherent violence and idiotic bureaucracy while eliminating the glory, honor and graphic depictions so often included in wartime novels.
Heller uses loads of humor to convey his messages and while the main theme is obvious to the reader, there are many hidden and double meanings buried in the intriguing stories. I selected this novel because it was highly recommended by a close friend and I definitely enjoyed it. Hellers humor is what I liked most about the novel. The novel is guaranteed to bring a smile to anyones face and I absolutely loved the characters.
On the other hand, I found his lack of timeline very frustrating and confusing. Some may consider this ingenious but there were parts of the novel when I was thoroughly puzzled as to who was dead or alive. In addition to this, the lack of a chronological order makes this novel insanely difficult to summarize. Other than that, I have no complaints about this book and even without the timeline its an ingenious work. The novel begins with the main character, Yossarian, in a military hospital with a phony liver condition that is severe enough to take him out of combat but not severe enough to operate on.
Soon after, a friendly Texan is brought into the ward and he is so overly nice and talkative that all the patients in the ward, including Yossarian, recover from their various ailments and return to the war. After leaving the hospital, Yossarian talks to Doc Daneeka who informs him that the number of missions required to be relieved of service has been raised yet again by Colonel Cathcart to 50 from 45 while Yossarian has only completed 40. Needless to say Yossarian is enraged. Doc Daneeka is also the first to explain Catch- 22 to Yossarian.
In order for a pilot to be grounded for insanity, he must ask to be grounded but any pilot who asks to be grounded is obviously sane. Yossarian is both impressed and confused so he takes Docs word for it. Hungry Joe is a member of Yossarian's squadron who is obsessed with naked women and suffers from terrible nightmares on the nights before hes not supposed to fly. Hes flown six tours of duty but every time hes due to be sent home, Colonel Cathcart raises the number of missions. Cathcart is also proud to volunteer his men for the most dangerous and risky missions. A member of Yossarian's squadron helps explain how Catch- 22 requires them to fly the extra missions Colonel Cathcart has ordered even though the Air Force regulations only require 40 missions.
Milo is an extremely powerful mess officer who controls the international black market and searches diligently for profit. He even manages to make profit by buying eggs for 7 cents and selling them for 5 cents, an economic concept that Yossarian cant grasp. Major Major Major is Yossarian's squadron commander. He resembles Henry Fonda and his promotion to squadron commander causes him to lose all his friends and sets him in a deep depression where he decides that he can only be seen when he is not in his office. Captain Black, yet another member of Yossarian's squadron, is very pleased that Colonel Cathcart has volunteered them for the outrageously dangerous mission of bombing Bologna. But before the mission, it rains endlessly postponing the bombing.
But when the rain stops, Yossarian moves the bomb line on the map to indicate that Bologna has already been captured. While this confuses everyone for a while, the truth is finally discovered and they are forced to bomb Bologna. Yossarian is so terrified of bombing the city that during the mission he fakes an intercom failure and forces his plane to return. The rest of the planes on the mission return unscathed since there were no air defenses at the target. When his superiors learn of what happened, Yossarian is reprimanded and forced to return and bomb the city with his crew. They fly to Bologna confidently assuming there will be no defenses but are stunned by the shrapnel and flak being directed at them.
Despite the surprise, they bomb the target and return safely. After the bombing of Bologna, Yossarian has a brief episode in which he falls in love with an Italian girl but unfortunately he loses her phone number. Colonel Cathcart once again raises the number of missions needed to be sent home and Yossarian is so upset, he decides to return to the hospital. Hes been a frequent visitor at the hospital and he even spent one thanksgiving there. Colonel Cathcart begins to worry extensively about Yossarian.
Yossarian has become an embarrassment to him because he complains about the ever increasing number of missions and in the past he attended his own medal ceremony completely naked. The Colonel wishes he knew how to deal with Yossarian so he can impress his commanding officer, General Dreedle. Yossarian was once a brave bombardier but he lost his nerve in a mission where his friend Snowden died in his arms. Strangely, Yossarian attends Snowdens funeral naked in a tree. On one occasion, he takes a trip with Milo to pick up supplies and begins to realize the vastness of Milos dominance of the black market. Milo is considered the leader of many countries because hes revitalized their economies with his black market.
In fact, his influence is so vast that he contracts the Germans to bomb Americans and the Americans to shoot down German planes. One evening, he made an agreement with the Germans to bomb his own base. Several people are wounded and killed but Milo calms down the survivors by showing them the profit theyve all made. On a later mission, Yossarian is hit by flak and sent to the hospital legitimately. While there, him and his friend Dunbar execute a plan to switch identities by switching beds with lower ranking officers. Not surprisingly, they are caught.
Yossarian and Dunbar then begin to fondle their nurse and when they are confronted by doctors they plead insanity. The hospital psychiatrist examines Yossarian, finds him insane and orders him to be sent home but because of the identity switching before, another man in the ward is sent home. Yossarian begins to have a relationship with the nurse he fondled, Nurse Duckett. One day, while making love to her on the beach, his pilot, Mc Watt flies a little too close to the shore and slices a man in half with the propeller. Mc Watt refuses to land the plane and then crashes it into the side of a mountain. Doc Daneeka was supposed to be on that flight according to the paperwork even though he wasnt.
Nevertheless, he is presumed dead. His wife begins to receive all types of insurance money and military aid for his death and when Doc writes her a letter pleading for her to explain to the authorities that he really is alive, she ignores it and moves away with no forwarding address. More and more of Yossarian's friends continue to die and he is given four new roommates who drive him crazy. Because of this he flees to Rome where he is unable to find a whore he previously fell i...
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