Catch-22

Catch-22
Overview
Main Characters
Themes
The insanity of war is the central theme of Catch-22, set in Italy during World War II. Air Force bombardier Yossarian spends the novel trying to avoid death as his superiors constantly raise the number of missions he must fly in order to be released from service.
Doc Daneeka
Doctor who defines Catch-22 concept
The Chaplain
Yossarian's friend who is losing his religion
Yossarian
Squadron captain who hates war and scorns patriotism
Milo Minderbinder
Mess officer who runs black-market syndicate
Cathcart
Colonel who constantly sends his men on dangerous missions
Insanity of War
War unhinges everyone it touches, especially those in the military.
Senseless Death
Yossarian's struggle to make sense of death drives the action in the book.
Disillusionment
Every soldier has lost his sense of patriotism, and none of the superiors can be trusted.
Communication Breakdown
Yossarian censors soldiers' mail, and form letters are sent to the families of dead soldiers.
Symbols
Numbering
Aerial Photos
The photos represent the pointless priorities of Yossarian's Squad 256, who are made to fly in photogenic, not effective, formations.
Catch-22
The rule called "Catch-22" symbolizes Yossarian's problem: anyone who wants to stop flying missions on the grounds of insanity must be sane.
Soldier in White
The soldier wrapped in bandages represents any nameless, suffering soldier.
9
Years from Heller's war experience (1944) to the start of writing (1953)
90
Minutes to sketch out the entire book
1
Day to write the first chapter
8
Years to finish writing the book
50
Weeks from its hardcover publication to its appearance in paperback, when it became a national best seller
Author
JOSEPH HELLER 1923- 1999
At 19, Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew 60 combat missions in World War II and based Catch-22 on his wartime experiences. After the war, he taught at several universities and wrote six other novels in addition to screenplays and a Broadway play.
4