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Catch-22 : man in an alien society Barbour, Michael McKay


This paper examines social relationships and pressures of contemporary society as shown in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22. Through a brief study of conceptual limitations within Heller's characters it demonstrates that they exist within a totally self-enclosed system divorced from reality but supported by complex justifications. Within this social matrix is seen the heroic strivings of Yossarian to save a world he believes to have gone mad. As the study progresses, it shows that Yossarian and his friends do not in fact share the same conceptual basis as their apparent society. Their satiric efforts are seen to be useless to a society convinced of its own justifications for evil, and destructive to their own potentialities for human-beingness. The ultimate goal of society is seen to be a physical and spiritual fascism in which no dissent is possible. Escape and death are shown to be the true alternatives for those who would maintain their individuality and ethics.

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