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Catch-22 Book Review

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"He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive." Chapter 3, pg. 38

The above quote is from Joseph Heller's Catch-22. During the second half of World War II, a soldier named Yossarian is stationed with his Air Force squadron on the island of Pianosa, near the Italian coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Captain Yossarian is an American bombardier stationed off the Italian coast during the final months of World War II. Paranoid and odd, Yossarian believes that everyone around him is trying to kill him. All Yossarian wants is to complete his tour of duty and be sent home. However, because the glory-seeking Colonel Cathcart continually raises the number of required missions, the men of the "fighting 256th squadron" must keep right on fighting.

With a growing hatred of flying, Yossarian pleads with Doc Daneeka to ground him on the basis of insanity. Doc Daneeka replies that Yossarian's appeal is useless because, according to army regulation Catch-22, insane men who ask to be grounded prove themselves sane through a concern for personal safety. Truly crazy people are those who readily agree to fly more missions. The only way to be grounded is to ask for it. Yet this act demonstrates sanity and thus demands further flying.

The frantic bombardier employs alternative measures to avoid combat flights. Faking a liver condition, Yossarian checks into the hospital and passes time by censoring mail. Yossarian postpones the mission to Bologna when he stealthily moves the bomb line on the map of Italy. A sudden outbreak of diarrhea caused by poisoned sweet potatoes also delays the mission.

Yossarian has flown more combat tours of duty than anyone. Orders shipping him home are constantly unfulfilled and the ragged hero has frequent nightmares. Yossarian is blamed for the loss of Kraft's plane over Ferrara because he flew over the target twice. Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn cover-up the disaster by awarding Yossarian a medal for bravery and promoting him to captain. Yossarian stands naked in formation to receive his medal. Still traumatized by Snowden's death over Avignon, Yossarian refuses to wear his gore-soaked uniform. Young Nately crashes in an emergency mission and Yossarian bears the news



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