Catch-22: Full Book Summary | SparkNotes
During the second half of World War II, a soldier named Yossarian finds himself stationed with his air force squadron on the island of Pianosa, off the Italian coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Yossarian and his friends endure a nightmarish, absurd existence defined by bureaucracy and violence: inhuman resources in the eyes of their blindly ambitious superior officers. The squad is thoughtlessly thrown into brutal combat and bombing situations where it is more important for squad members to capture good aerial photos of the explosions than to destroy their targets. their colonels continually raise the number of missions they must fly before being sent home, so that no one is ever sent home. still, no one other than Yossarian seems to realize that there is a war going on; everyone thinks he’s crazy when he insists that millions of people are trying to kill him.
Yossarian’s story forms the core of the novel, so most events are refracted through his point of view. Yossarian Takes the Entire War Personally: Unswayed by national ideals or abstract principles, Yossarian is furious that his life is in constant danger through no fault of his own. he has a strong desire to live and is determined to be immortal or die trying. as a result, he spends much of his time in the hospital, faking various illnesses to avoid war. As the novel progresses through its loosely connected series of recurring stories and anecdotes, Yossarian is continually troubled by his memory of Snowden, a soldier who died in his arms on a mission when Yossarian lost all desire to participate in the war. war. Yossarian finds himself in ridiculous, absurd, desperate and tragic circumstances: he sees his friends die and disappear, his squad is bombed by his own mess officer, and colonels and generals volunteer for the most dangerous battle in order to better themselves. his own reputation.
catch-22 is a law defined in various ways throughout the novel. First, Yossarian discovers that it is possible to be discharged from military service for insanity. Always looking for a way out, Yossarian claims that he is crazy, only to find out that by claiming that he is crazy he has shown that he is obviously sane, as any sane person would claim that he is crazy to avoid it. flying bombing missions. elsewhere, catch-22 is defined as a law that is illegal to read. ironically, the place where it’s written to be illegal is in catch-22. is defined once again as the law that allows the enemy to do anything that one cannot prevent him from doing. In short, then, catch-22 is any circular, paradoxical reasoning that traps its victim in its illogicality and serves those who have made the law. catch-22 can be found in the novel not only where it is explicitly defined, but also throughout the characters’ stories, which are full of traps and examples of circular reasoning catching unwitting bystanders in their traps, for example , powerful officer Milo Minderbinder’s ability to make large sums of money trading among the companies he owns.
As Yossarian fights to stay alive, several side stories unfold around him. Her friend falls in love with a Roman prostitute and woos her constantly, despite her continued indifference and the fact that her younger sister constantly interferes with her romantic rendezvous. eventually, she falls for nately, but he dies on her next mission. When Yossarian brings her the bad news, she blames him for Nately’s death and tries to stab him whenever she sees him thereafter. Another subplot follows the rise of the black market empire of Milo Minderbinder, the squad’s mess officer. Milo runs a syndicate in which he borrows military planes and pilots to transport food between various points in Europe, earning a huge profit from their sales. although he claims that “everyone has a part” in the union, this promise is later proven false. Nevertheless, Milo’s business thrives and he is revered almost religiously by communities across Europe.
The novel comes to an end when Yossarian, worried about Nately’s death, refuses to take any more missions. he wanders the streets of rome and encounters all kinds of human horror: rape, disease, murder. Finally, he is arrested for being in Rome without a pass, and his superior officers, Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn, offer him a choice. he may face court martial or be released and sent home with an honorable discharge. there is only one condition: to be released, he must approve cathcart and korn and declare his support for his policy, which requires every man in the squadron to fly eighty missions. Though tempted by the offer, Yossarian realizes that to comply would be to endanger the lives of other innocent men. he chooses another way out and decides to leave the army and flee to neutral sweden. In doing so, he turns his back on the dehumanizing machinery of the military, rejects the catch-22 rule, and strives to take control of his own life.