This review will serve not just about the information and my personal opinion about the novel but a confession for my penchant for anything that is related to war, specifically for both World Wars. I’m interested in anything about it as much as I hate its after effects, safe for me to say that I hate its being senseless.
I guess I can considered myself a sentimentalist and that I think is the main reason for me to be interested in that part of history since war itself has this melancholic undertones and is sad in every way. Well anyway, about the novel, Catch-22 –if you hadn’t had the idea- is one of the most celebrated anti-war novels of all time. It has been listed in almost every list of must read books including the popular list of 1001 Books You Must Read before You Die.
Catch-22 is mainly about an Air Force Bombardier named Yossarian who wants the bombing to stop. Set during the World War II, Yossarian has this impending doom that everyone – even those the one he has never met – are trying to kill him. So the real problem for him is not the enemy but his own army which always tries to increase the number of missions every men has to fly to complete their service and therefore can go home. But when Yossarian tries to excuse himself from every missions he’s assigned, he will be in violation of Catch-22, an insanely rule that a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes an act to request a removal from duty, he is proven to be sane and is forbidden to be relieved, thus have to continue flying.
This is the type of novel I am sure I can’t discuss just by saying the superlatives but honestly, it is one of the greatest anti-war novels I have ever read, I wouldn’t suggest how moving it was for me for the war is enough for anyone to realize it. It is one of the books I’ve read that makes me yearn for things to get better and as time passed makes me hoped for every characters salvation. The novel isn’t written in a linear time so a reader is likely to be in confusion on when or where a particular scene has happened, or to be with the book’s almost 50 characters. But don’t worry, that is not really important. Even if you associate one character from another -with the exception of Yossarian- you’ll surely found the novel’s message, the effects of war that cause them such madness. It is not to say that I don’t understand the novel’s humor and can’t point out passages which is intended to be laughed at or mocked with but I interpret it as a struggle for everyone not just to be on the right side but to gain control of others. Although almost every dialogue has its sarcastic share of the monotonous saving of oneself, it manages to vary in every situation. Can I say that there are some narratives that literally make my head hurt?
Reaching the last few chapters (though the novel’s continuous suggestion for the reader to laugh at a certain situation) events starts to have a more serious implications. And with this seriousness, I started to notice that the human comedy is seriously unfunny. It is through this part that most of the gruesome actions are explained and the novels ridiculous side has its serious and underlying reasons.
It is really hard for me to talk what this novel is all about but let me put some light to it by sharing some example. Make yourself imagine attending a grand and luxurious party and dressing inappropriately. Of course, people around you will start to make you as the headline of their conversation. But have you done something wrong besides breaking the dress code? Who made these people act this way? The party itself? I guess it is something that doesn’t really exist, like how the war plays on human beings. Like Catch-22.
After reading the novel, I suddenly realize how lucky I am not being able to experience the senseless and frightening war and force to impart my life on the line. And for those unfortunate soldiers who die fighting for their country, I salute you in every way.
I highly suggest not just every bibliophile but everyone to read this particular novel, it is enough a self-realization how lucky we are not being able to witness the war. I wouldn’t wonder with all the novel’s absurdities, can find oneself moved and weeping (as I) occasionally throughout my reading.
Catch-22 is adapted to screen in 1970 starring Alan Arkin as Captain Yossarian.
Opening Sentence: It was love at first sight.
Ending Sentence: The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.