The plot constitutes the desperate efforts of the protagonist, Captain Yossarian, to achieve his goal: to get out of the army. The story depicts the many misadventures he goes through to obtain this, which he finally does, but in the most ironically imaginable way.The whole twist in the tale is that whatever he does to get out of the army, there is a catch, that turns his efforts around, and keeps him from doing so.
The whole story is based on a catch, Catch 22. Yossarian’s aim is to get out of the army, but the only way for him to be sent home, is for him to either be dead, or have gone mad. But he doesn’t want to get home dead, so he refuses to fly any more missions. By refusing to fly any more missions, he would normally be forced to fly even more, so he discounts that possibility. The next possibility for being sent home is if he is crazy, but he is not. If he says that he is, they’ll know that he isn’t, but if he says that he isn’t, they’ll have no reason to doubt him, so it seems as if there is no way out, until he does refuse to fly more missions, is worrying about the consequences, and is called into Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn’s office for an important chapter.
The colonels offer him a great deal, if he decides to like them, be friends with them, defend their name and become their “hero”, they’ll send him home. He had not of course yet thought of that possibility, since, although he did regard the system as a bit pathetic, this trurn of events was beyond not onléy his wildest dreams but those of this reader.
The story takes place on an island in the Meditarranean Sea in war time. but that doesn’t really matter. The book is a satire on war and the irony of mankind. it could be set anywhere at anytime. The reader meets and gets to know new, cynical, and stranger characters in each chapter (each named after one of them). Each character is like a puzzle piece to form the final picture of the patheticacy of war.
The tone of the book is extreemely cynical, ironic, and satirical. It shows not only, how stupid war is, but how the organisation of the army is pathetic. The outward, publicized goal of the army is to train men to be honest, obeyant, attentive and to give them things to work for, fight for, and look forwards to. The men are supposed to be fighting for their country, but men such as Yossarian, start to feel that no matter how many missions they fly, their country is not gaining much, though they are risking their lives. Also, their country is represented by cynical, and haughty Colonels, officers and generals, that are not worth fighting for, and give the wrong example of what is to be gained by war.
The idea of Yossarian being sent home a make-believe hero, suggests the fact that there is no reason to fight bravely, the best thing to do, to get promoted or acclaimed , would be to defy the system rather than obey it. Which, is ironic. The subject of the book is serious, that is, war but the matter-of-factness of it all just turns the whole thing into a satire.
-Dominique.B. EN 3:1. 01.05.00