A Fine Line

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

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Catch-22, is a novel, by Joseph Heller that uses "madness"� and "insanity"� in its characters to exemplify the effects and hardships of war. Heller uses his main character Yossarian's to show the reader that the line between insanity and sanity is often muddied in wartime. One is not sure whether Yossarian is crazy before he went to war or whether the circumstances of war have made him that way. For indeed when you read the book you begin to realize that a sane man may become very unreasonable under the stress of the mind games of war.

Yossarian can be described as a paranoid malinger who is trying to deal with the harshness of war. His paranoia consists of the delusion that everyone is trying to kill him. He insists that even those on his side are out to get him, and that no one can be trusted. The war is no longer between his troops and the enemy, but has become a personal vendetta against him.

Yossarain's persistent paranoia leads the reader to believe that he is indeed insane. He is so paranoid about being killed he takes measures into his own hands, which jeopardize the rest of the troops. His insanity stops him from understanding the implications of his actions. He is incapable of carrying out orders as planned, like when he moves the bomb line back so the troops don't have to fly their mission.

Another coping mechanism Yossarian uses in order to avoid death is to pretend he has an illness. He collects list of fatal diseases that he could pretend to have, and is always claiming to have a pain in his liver that often times requires hospitalization.

General Dreedle doesn't care about mental state, only cares about winning war.

In war reality gets...