Catch-22 by Joseph Heller tells a story of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier who wishes to be grounded from combat flight because he thinks everyone is trying to kill him(obviously!). The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, and their attempts to keep their sanity in order to fulfill their service requirements, so that they can return home.
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”
“Catch-22” is based on the explanation by the character Doc Daneeka as to why any pilot requesting a psych evaluation hoping to be found not sane enough to fly, and thereby escape dangerous missions, would thereby demonstrate his sanity.
I can’t believe I hesitated so long to read this book. This book got me all the emotions. One minute i’m giggling aloud, and next I’m stumped by the horrifying depiction of the insanity of war. One of the things i loved about this book was it’s structure. The narrative’s events are in non-chronological order and many events in the book are repeatedly described from different point of view so the reader must ultimately piece together a timeline of events.