Historical Literature Essay: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Essay by neo1513High School, 10th gradeA, July 2004

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The phrase "Catch-22" was coined after the phenomenal success of the book by Joseph Heller. It became the defining term for every paradoxical agreement and decision from the time it was published. The profound affect of the satirical style it was written in opened the eyes of the public to a scam which that was veiled by the façade of patriotism but in reality, was just a method of covering greed.

The complexity of military condition in the closing months of the war had affected the leaders of many air squadrons by pushing them into a scramble of power and an easy chance to gain rank. An example of this is why Colonel Cathcart repeatedly raised the amount of missions his men had to fly. Each time he raised the missions he had a higher chance of being recognized by a war magazine which would bolster his standing with superior officers.

Colonel Cathcart used his position to make himself look better among the higher ranks and it was justified by the fact that they were in a war and whatever he did was for the good of the United States. It was just this raise of missions that was the basis of one of the main catch 22's in the book. Colonel Cathcart was elevated above the flight officers because of his rank. And because of that they had to follow every one of his orders. The requirement set by the military to be able to go home was to fly 40 missions but Col. Cathcart ended up raising that number to near 90. Most of the officers would have been able to complete their tour of duty long before they did but they had to follow orders. The men could have appealed to the district command but to do...