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Essay on Language and Dialogue in Catch-22

Use of Language and Dialogue Catch-22

“Catch-22 is probably best discussed in terms of its language. The prose style Heller employs is original and distinctive, appropriate and well implemented (Pearson 277).” One application of that prose style is dialogue; Heller uses dialogue to manifest the themes of the novel. Some of the themes best shown in the dialogue of the characters are Heller’s hatred of war, and his perceived idiocy in military and in bureaucracy. Scattered throughout the book are several dialogues which share numerous characteristics. Some particular conversations are especially demonstrative of these elements. Heller uses these dialogues to communicate his ideas to the reader. In chapter XXXVI, several military police officers pick up the camp’s Chaplain, take him to The Cellar, and interrogate him. The dialogue between the three MPs and the Chaplain is typical of dialogues throughout the book in many ways and the conversation reflects numerous themes central toCatch-22. The interrogation scene offers many insights into the meaning of Catch-22and the dialogue therein is especially important. The camp Heller describes is bureaucratic in the worst possible way and the conversation exhibits those characteristics of bureaucracy that Heller most loathes: illogical operation, inability to take action, lateral actions (in which no real gain is made), and a maelstrom of regulations which work against each other.

One way the interrogation scene mirrors the themes of the book is that the logicemployed by the military police officers is totally illogical. Heller presents thisas a major theme in his novel: throughout the book, the thought processes of agents of themilitary make no sense whatsoever and tho…

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…ph Heller”: Copyright 1996 by Charles Scribner’s and Sons New York, NY.

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Hasley, Louis. “Dramatic Tension in Catch-22.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 8 (173) , Ed. Roger Matuz. Detroit: Gale. 1990.

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Pearson, Carol. “Catch-22

Free Catch-22 Essays: The Lunacies of Catch-22

The Lunacies of Catch-22

Joseph Heller, in his Catch-22, satirizes the lunacies and catches

of war and the military. This world which Yossarian and Milo inhabit is a

game to be played very carefully. That the craziness of war is a game can

be supported by the fact that Milo and Yossarian both win, but each having

and utilizing a different strategy. “Milo and Yossarian came from

fundamentally different con-man traditions, both pressed into new extremes.

The contrast in styles can be summed up by saying that Milo is serious but

covert and that Yossarian is open but playful.”

Throughout the novel, Milo makes headway by his manipulations and

fast talk. He makes himself invaluable to Colonel Cathcart by forcing him

to realize that he is irreplaceable. He manipulates himself into a

position of acting as a lifeline to the base by appealing to the weaknesses

of his superior officers. Cunningly he maneuvers himself into power and

becomes the most influential person in the entire scope of operations.

However, he loses the sense of the game; he becomes so wrapped up in

gaining position, he loses his sense of awareness and becomes singularly

concerned with money and power.

Yossaarian, on the other hand, remains openly defiant of the game

but succeeds at it because of his playfulness. He attends a march stark

naked, openly aborts missions, and obviously fakes illness to escape “the

game.” In doing this he makes his points and accomplishes his goals but

only because of his playfulness. Yossarian made real headway upon his

temporary repression of his ideals and principles but realizing his mistake

changed his mind. He could not manipulate his beliefs as Milo does but

could not advance with open, serious defiance and strict adherence to his

principles. Yossarian sacrificed his only straightforward chance to escape

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