The sample essay on Catch 22 Essay deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
‘Catch 22’ is a novel set in World War 2. The universal phrase ‘Catch 22’ simply means a situation whereby one is destined to lose. The passage is placed in the setting of Milo and Yossarian engaged in a conversation concerning Milo’s investment, Egyptian cotton. Milo’s character is symbolic of what is wrong with capitalism; he lacks morals and consideration for other people and is tremendously selfish.
Earlier in the novel, Milo’s sleeps in luxurious hotels whilst Yossarian and Orr sleep in the plane, which is representative of Milo’s self centred characteristics, as is this passage.
The passage opens with Milo persuading Yossarian to eat the ‘chocolate covered cotton’. He declares that he would ‘like to serve it to the men’ suggestive of good intentions. However, the later account that the men have ‘got to swallow it’ is a contradiction and serves to illustrate more of Milo’s forceful and corrupt power.
In the passage, Heller directs the reader towards symbolism that denotes Milo as sinful. There are outstanding similarities to the story of Adam and Eve, with Milo sharing similar characteristics to Satan.
Both Satan and Milo are corrupting man for their own benefit, Satan to corrupt humankind and Milo to increase his profit. Heller employs a vast amount of biblical references to highlight the connection to the Book of Genesis.
Satan uses the ‘tree of life’ to tempt eve with the apple, whilst Milo ‘stroked the tree affectionately’ with close inspection suggesting that there is profit to be made. A financial endeavour is central to the character of Milo, signified by the symbolic connotations of the ‘chocolate covered cotton’.
Milo’s concern is more about forcing the men to eat the cotton than whether or not they will enjoy it, thus proving Milo as a shrewd businessman caught up in greed. The ‘chocolate covered cotton’ symbolises the lack of morals in both the military service and the world, hiding corruption beneath an exciting exterior. Milo deceitfully disguises the cotton with chocolate. Similarly, Satan disguises himself as a serpent to deceive Eve. The idea that appearance is deceptive creates another resemblance between Satan and Milo.
Whilst Satan preyed on Eve’s weakness to flattery, Milo heightened the excitement of the cotton by covering it with chocolate. The biblical references in this passage are interesting as there is a lack of religious beliefs in the novel. Yossarian focuses on the bad occurrences in the world and questions God, therefore representing his character as being one of rebellion. His imagination that the chestnut tree is ‘the knowledge of good and evil’ affords a level of sarcasm. The reader learns a lot about Yossarian’s character in this passage.
Yossarian removes his uniform as he despises all that it symbolises. Sitting naked in the tree could denote Yossarian as crazy, however, there is a suggestion that with his uniform on he is simply another ‘poor kid’ with a lost identity. Furthermore, the rarity of his Assyrian name represents his alienation, whilst also proposing the idea that he has been dehumanised by the war. In comparison, Milo patriotically wears the ‘coarse olive drab uniform’, with the interpretation that due to his corruption within the military service he may aspire to be unknown.
However, the language Heller uses to describe the uniform suggests restriction, thus Milo’s ‘tie knotted tight’ metaphorically signifies the restrictions that war inflicts. The contrast between Yossarian and Milo sitting in the tree is representational of their characters. Yossarian is defiant, refuses to participate in the war, and does not hide that fact. However, Milo conforms to the war and wears the uniform because he can financially benefit from such tragedies. Milo, like the ‘chocolate covered cotton’ hides flaws and immorality behind a fai? ade to connote oneself as trustworthy.
He, like the officers exploits the name of the country to further his own profits. The latter part of the passage is a build up to the scene where Yossarian and Milo witness Snowden’s burial. Heller employs the ‘scarlet crested bird’ to create a metaphor for death. ‘Scarlet’ denotes danger and blood, whilst the movement of the bird who ‘shot by’ generates the idea of the gunshot. Finally, the ‘quivering bush’ represents the fear and death of the soldier. This metaphor may represent Snowden’s death and foreshadows the burial, as does the description of inactive nature as the leaves ‘hung motionless’.
Yossarian and Milo witness the funeral and their dissimilar reactions are significant in displaying their experiences of the war. Whilst Milo ‘points excitedly’ showing a level of naivety, Yossarian ‘answered slowly in a level voice’, thus signifying his remorse that returns. The death of Snowden entirely transformed the meaning of war for Yossarian and it troubles him to watch the burial. For a short while, Milo’s ‘brown eyes filled with tears’ but immediately he only mourns the loss of his cotton, communicating that money is more important than life.
Yossarian uses the opportunity of Snowden’s burial to strengthen the grudge he holds upon Milo for Mudd’s death. Mudd was ‘killed before he even got into the squadron’ due to Milo bombing the site to be rid of the Egyptian cotton. The very fact that Milo refuses to take responsibility of Mudd’s death reinforces him as a greedy, selfish Lieutenant. Mudd is referred to as ‘the dead man in [Yossarian’s] tent’, which reiterates the suggestion that the war dehumanises a person. This is a typical theme of war literature and supports the argument that capital is more imperative than life.
In conclusion, this passage contains an interesting amount of themes and ideas that Heller incorporates into ‘Catch 22’ to create the dissimilar views and experiences of men at war; we must not assume men at war are homogeneous. Heller seems to be using humour to highlight the futility of war and the way in which it changes a man. Heller touches on events that are significant in displaying both one’s character and their experiences. The passage continuously draws dissimilarities between Yossarian and Milo to create a distance of morals amid them.