Essay On Lack Of Meaning In Catch 22

891 words - 4 pages

Lack of Meaning in Catch 22

   Most of what we say has no meaning. This idea is supported on every page of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. Almost every scene in the novel contains dialogue where the people speak aimlessly and have no explanation for why they are talking.


Colonel Cargill addresses his men by saying, "You're American officers. The officers of no other army in the world can make that statement. Think about it."  Even though the remark is true, it has no meaning. These type of random statements and dialogues occur throughout the whole book. Another situation when two people speak without making any sense is when Clevinger is being questioned. "I didn't say you couldn't punish me," said Clevinger. "When?" asked the colonel. "When what, sir?" "Now you're asking me questions again." "I am sorry, sir. I'm afraid I don't understand your question."  Later in the interrogation, the colonel is so twisted in his conversation that he no longer wants to know when Clevinger said that he could not be punished. He now wants to know when Clevinger did not say that he could not be punished. Clevinger quickly rebuts and states, "I always didn't say you couldn't punish me, sir." Finally, the colonel is satisfied with that answer even though Clevinger's statement did not answer the question and has no meaning.


Major Major often spoke with a lack of meaning. He simply did not make sense. For instance, he told Sergeant Towser, his assistant, "From now on, I don't want anyone to come in to see me while I'm here."  According to this statement, when would anyone be able to see him if they could only go to his office when Major Major was out? When Appleby once went to see Major Major, he started to talk to Sergeant Towser. "About how long will I have to wait before I can go in to see the major?" "Just until he goes to lunch," Sergeant Towser replied. "Then you can go right in." "But he wont be there then. Will he?" "No, sir. Major Major won't be back in his office until after lunch." 


The famous catch 22, stated that one can only be grounded from flying if he/she is crazy. However, if one asks to be grounded, he/she is no longer considered to be crazy and the soldier would have to fly more missions. Yossarian always fell into this trap. He wants to be grounded but he couldn't be considered insane because he keeps on asking to be grounded. Dr. Stubbs comments about Yossarian's catch 22. He says, "That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left." This obviously represents a complete contradiction. When Orr explains why he walks around as a kid with crab apples in...

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