Sanity vs. Insanity: A War-Time Struggle

Standard post by srs2020 on February 2, 2019
1 comment

Image result for war is hell

In Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, I have been mostly intrigued with the sheer amount of satire that Heller employs in his writing. It is a critical theme to his book that I mentioned in my first post. His satire clearly demonstrates the problems and issues facing society when talking about war. Heller’s use of sarcasm is probably my key point of interest as it represents the very core of his argument in that a society in war glorifies war to an unhealthy extent for its constituents. One quote that clearly represents the struggles between Captain Yossarian, the main character and symbol for sanity, and his peers, who symbolize insanity, would be when the war surrounding the soldiers was supposedly conventional rather than stressful to their lives. Heller notes, “The only thing going on was a war, and no one seemed to notice but Yossarian and Dunbar” (Heller 14). The significance of this quote is that soldiers grew accustomed to the ways of war as they spent more and more time on the battlefield, which further exacerbated the issue of oversimplification of war.

I especially appreciate the way that Heller develops Yossarian’s character. He makes use of all the characters surrounding Yossarian as foils to enhance the normalcy of Yossarian in a society filled with people lost in dreams. Through this, both Yossarian and his comrades appear to be well-developed characters. As characters who only seek to gain military promotion or individuals who aim to solely possess material valuables appear, it is clear to both Yossarian and the reader that the various critiques on society only emphasize the impact of war on society, thus pushing Heller’s claims even further while creating an enticing story for the reader to behold.

Times of War: The Truth…?

Standard post by srs2020 on January 19, 2019
1 comment

From the very beginning, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller builds a relatively calm world in the surroundings of fictional Captain John Yossarian during World War II. The narration immediately drops you into the story with no exposition to inform you of what’s happening. The development of relationships and the importance of friendship are crucial motifs throughout the books as you realize that Yossarian is attached to the people he becomes involved with. This leads directly to the main problem of the story: how war is perceived versus how war is experienced. Yossarian’s rational outlook on the bleak events of the War are directly in contrast to the insane society he lives in. The modern needs and wants of society are pointed out through the sheer absurdity of what others in the story believe in. Heller helps develop the character of Yossarian by surrounding him with unrealistic supporting characters to effectively criticize the faults of society. All these methods of development seem to point towards an ending of either extreme absurdity or brutal reality as either Yossarian conforms to the outlandish ideas of his peers or his peers see the truth. Either way, the ending will definitely impact you significantly regarding the times of war and how society should behave.

From previous war stories I’ve read, like The Things They Carried, I know that those who have experienced war have significantly changed because of the stress of the war. The glorified propaganda during the war proposed to civilians led them to believe that war was not as dreadful as it seemed; however, soldiers in the war quickly learned the truth of loss and death. Even though so many different books explain the horrors of war, we still send soldiers into the battlefield, knowing that they may be permanently scarred. If these different books are accurate, I believe that this book will explain the problems of glorifying war as well as show the reality of war in a way that is truthful rather than deceitful.