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Wendy Hurwit

on 22 May 2014

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Transcript of Catch-22

Marxism: Power Structure
Inexperience and Role Reversal
John Yossarian, a bombardier, is reluctant to go on a mission to bomb Bologna, as he is sure it will mean certain death. He decides to take matters into his own hands and “knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, tiptoed out of his tent and moved the bomb line up over Bologna. (Heller 123).
The Glorious Loyalty Oath Campaign
In this satirization of the Air Force, all of the high ranking officers are locked in a race to outdo each other and earn a promotion, often at the expense of the efficiency of the unit.
Abuse of Title
Major Major Major
Abuse of Title
Major Major Major Major
Major Major Major Major
Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major

Inexperience and Role Reversal
Of course the mission is canceled. Do you think we’re bombing our own troops now?” (Heller 123).
Inexperience and Role Reversal
Yossarian sees that the only way to be free is to move the bombing line, and in doing so he is exerting his new role as a pseudo-commanding officer, further obscuring the power dynamic. He contributes to the chaos that is the army at Pianosa, intensifying the futility of war.

The Glorious Loyalty Oath Campaign
“All enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent...every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed.” (Heller 116).
The Glorious Loyalty Oath Campaign
Captain Black designed this campaign to keep the soldiers subservient to him, as well as to make it seem like he was the most ambitious and patriotic officer at the camp.
The Glorious Loyalty Oath Campaign
More specifically, the struggle takes place between the bourgeois, who control the means of production...and the proletariat, who supply the labor that allows the owners to make a profit.” (Dobie).
What it means
“War does not determine who is right - only who is left.” - Bertrand Russell

Victorian Era
Strict rules in society
Modern Era
Rejection of religion
Rejection of rules of old society
World War II
Another depressing war
Only 11 years after WWI
Advanced technology
War less personal
Aircraft bombing
Vietnam War
War was televised for the first time .
Big anti-war movement.
Catch-22 was said to have been seen in the hands of every college student.
Heller using his satirical novel to warn the future about the meaningless of war.
World War I
Trench warfare
Images of suffering and trauma became the widely shared perception of the war.
War no longer seen as heroic and exciting.
The optimism of la belle époque was destroyed, and those who had fought in the war were referred to as the Lost Generation.
war is meaningless, illogical, and immoral .
New Historicism
“The essential matter of history is not what happened but what people thought or said about it”- Frederic Mailand.

Assesses the cultural and historical background

Looks at background of the author.

Information used to interpret what the meaning or purpose of the work is and how the author and time period influenced the way the work was written.
Lost Generation
The "Lost Generation" was lost in that the values that its members were being taught didn't fit the reality of life after the brutal and horrifying World War I.
Joseph Heller was born in 1923 and grew up with disillusionment
Joseph Heller flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier
Admitted that he had anti-war and anti-government feelings
Freudian Triparte Psyche
Yossarian is concerned with preserving his own life.
The base natural instinct is to survive
Yossarian is determined to stay alive or die trying
This need to survive trumps all other needs from friendship to morality
The superego in the novel comes from the military hierarchy
It works constantly to kill Yossarian putting the Id and Superego directly in conflict.
The conflict between Yossarian's desire to survive and the inescapable military bureaucracy forms compromise with each other in the Ego.
Joan Riviere, in her essay ‘On the Genesis of Psychical Conflict in Early Infancy’ (1952), states ‘the deepest source of anxiety in human beings’ (1952, p. 43) is ‘that such helplessness against destructive forces within is ubiquitous and constitutes the greatest psychical danger-situation known to the human organism...’.
Yossarian experiences this anxiety and thus develops mental issues such as:
Obsession with women (mainly prostitutes)
Driving desire to experience life to its fullest at all times.
This manifests itself most prominently in the novel's namesake - Catch-22
This paradox is humorous to the reader but causes Yossarian extreme stress.
Because of Maslow's Hierarchy, Yossarian forgoes Morality for survival.
This leads to actions such as...
Moving the bombing line at Bolonga
Falling in love with prostitutes
Pretending to be sick in order to stay in the hospital
Falling in love with his nurses who care for him in the hospital
None of Yossarian's commanding officers care about his life.
Colonel Cathcart concerns himself with becoming a General at all costs, forcing his men to fly more and more missions which have no impact on the war
Yossarian's friends die because of Cathcart's selfish desires.
Life of Joseph Heller and how it impacted Catch-22
When he was five years old, his father passed away leaving only his mother and half-brother to care for him
Heller also flew as a bombardier during the Second World War where he was stationed on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean in a setting similar to the island of Pianosa in the novel
Many of the names of the characters in the novel also were taken from Heller’s coworkers who surrounded him during the time he wrote the novel.
During his thirty-seventh mission over Avignon, he came under enemy anti-aircraft fire which severely wounded the gunner
This led to...
Heller most likely experienced PTSD
Childhood trauma can have a strong impact on later life
Heller's father's death caused death to be a strong theme in the novel
The area he was stationed in became the inspiration for the island of Pianosa in the novel
Heller was also strongly Anti-War
Ways in which Heller's life impacted the novel
"Psychological projection is the act or technique of defending oneself against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in oneself, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude."
Heller's novel is a form of distorted projection of his own stresses experienced during the war.
Heller's Personal Views
Heller's feelings against the war, capitalism, and bureaucracy were manifested in the book through certain characters.
Colonel Cathcart
Colonel Cathcart is, “an industrious, intense, dedicated military tactician who calculated day and night in the service of himself”(Heller 188).
Milo Minderbender
human form of the capitalist enterprise
he gained an immense amount of power and very quickly began abusing it
bombed his own squadron as a part of a deal with the Germans
Chocolate covered cotton
Heller uses him to portray Capitalists as being greedy and without morality.
Continuously raised the number of missions
Promote Yossarian
Modern Era Elements
represented in nearly every character in the book
Major Major
The whole book is set up in a disorderly manner and it is, “...impossible to establish an orderly time-sequence for the novel. There are a sufficient number of discontinuities, interruptions, and repetitions, to prevent the reader from placing any event in a succession of other events” (Way 267).

Major Major Major Major
People refuse to play sports with him
No one sits with him
He was forced to sit alone at his own private table, and still felt so much antagonism from the others, that he began taking his food to his trailer to eat in isolation (Heller 90).
Only religious figure
Alienated by others
Not allowed into the club
Feels like the only sane person
lonely->act crazy->Marriage
unable to truly connect and form relationships
meaningless war=meaningless life.
Yossarian= not patriotic,
Dying for the war cause is pointless
Acts illogical in an illogical war to survive.
Catch-22 states that, “a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind” (Heller 46).
Disillusioned and realizes can't leave, so he runs away
Chaplain-letters, religion
lack of order and stability directly reflects the war itself.
Soldiers were full of confusion because the war was illogical and had no meaning.
Heller makes his reader feel the same confusion soldiers felt and experience how illogical the war was.
Catch-22 was written by Heller to criticize the war.
The historical lens brought to attention the outsides forces such as the author’s own anti-war views and background, the influence of Modernism themes and beliefs, and forces in power at the time, and how all of those influenced the way Catch-22 was written.
Revealed how war was meaningless and illogical through satire (made bureaucracies look ridiculous, used thoughtful humor to illuminate some truly sad underlying events
Joseph Heller wrote
to advocate that war was meaningless and illogical. He achieves this through satire that provokes thoughtful laughter.
Heller uses gender roles to convey his message by taking advantage of a largely male-driven novel to highlight sections of great importance with a female presence.

Difference is the, “Assumption that gender determines everything, including value systems and language” (104).

Yosarian desires life and wants to escape the chaotic environment of war.
Other characters like Nately desire love and affection from another individual, but ends up dying right after he obtains it.
Experience is how, “Women are seen as secondary and derivative” (108).
Power Relationships
Power relationships is the “attack” on, “Both the economic and the social exploitation of women” (105).

Nately tries to woo the whore for companionship and ends up having reversing roles and being exploited by the whore.
She uses her sexuality to stay in control.
Nately dies right after on the next mission.
Nately’s death symbolizes the death of human interaction and affectionate love towards another human being.

Nately's Whore
In Catch-22, there are not many women, but those few who are present have power over the men through their sexuality
Controls Yossarian
Has sex with him on her own terms.
Makes him buy her dinner first.
Makes him wait again until she decides to go to him the next morning on her own time.
Dreedle uses her to frustrate the men around him
She is seen as a sexual object and has no other role besdes that.
However, her sexuality gives here power, as this video demonstrates.

General Dreedle's Girl
The women in the novel are still seen as beneath the men. They have less meaningful roles in the story than the men do.
Yosarian desires an immediate marriage with Luciana because uses sex to escape the nightmares of war.
Yosarian objectifies Luciana and grows angry when she denies his offer.
Yosarian’s offer and his anger afterwards demonstrate the irrational and illogical thinking that stems from the war.
Only a sexual object.
She is submissive and always obeys Dreedle.

General Dreedle's Girl
Nately loves her, but the other men still degrade her and only view her as a whore.
Nothing else is said about her to make her a more complex character even though she has a sister and is different from the other prostitutes.

Nately's whore
Just like flowers... people die
Power and the lack thereof is always at play in any situation, including conflicts, and often, it is as skewed and as broken as is illustrated in the novel.
Women always play a large part in every war or conflict, and their stake in the world is not to be ignored.
People are not mindless killing machines that only follow orders, and examining the effects of war on the delicate human psyche is an important way to humanize combatants on both sides of the front line.
In the end, war is pointless and futile.
Full transcript