The War Novel – Catch 22

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War. On the homefront, everyone is a hero; society has made it custom to feel gratitude and admiration for the service that veterans sacrificed for one’s country. Within the war, however, a man’s identity is not masked by their service; these veterans, the heroes that we are conditioned to salute have true colors, colors that are truly revealed to their fellow men in uniform.

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World War II was deadly. In a war where countries fought for the sake of their nation’s flag, Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, awakens the reader to the philosophy that the war wasn’t for the purpose of a nation; it was a war in which every man was for himself. In his brilliant piece, Heller artfully draws upon allusions to the Bible to create depth and color to the fictional story.

A key component to the success of Heller in Catch 22 is his use of allusion to biblical themes throughout the text. A radio-gunner in Yossarian, the protagonist and bombardier for the American forces’ plane, passes tragically while being raided by anti- American forces, and the men are rattled with sadness. Three days after the passing of the soldier, Snowden, Yossarian climbs a tree, stripped of clothing, and is accompanied by Milo, a character who some would say is the antagonist of the piece. The squadron chaplain, a young man whose faith in God is truly tested throughout the war, relates a vision he has at the funeral to his alleged deja vu problem, and Heller is successful in his parallel of the tree scene with that of the story of the Tree of Knowledge and the Garden of Eden.

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