Farewell

Farewell To Arms The extremely powerful characterization used in Catch 22 depicts what Heller feels to be the frivolousness and insanity of war, as well as portraying Yossarian, the main character, as the anti-war hero. The two internal changes that shape Yossarian’s character are when he goes from being obedient and brave to being disobedient and afraid, and ultimately to being disobedient and brave. Heller purposely delineates Yossarian as insane, and the others sane, and then after Yossarian transforms into being disobedient and brave, the author shows Yossarian as being the only one who is truly sane. Yossarian would soon have the number of missions required in order to return home. With this optimism, he flies many missions and is promoted to captain, bravely commanding the inferior members of his squadron. While Yossarian does not enjoy flying missions, he obeys his superior officers in hopes that he will be able to return home soon.

However, Colonel Cathcart repeatedly raises the number of missions, just as Yossarian nearly reaches the necessary amount. After growing discouraged, Yossarian flies his missions with constant indifference towards the success or failure of each mission, and after the death of a co-pilot he becomes afraid, and making up excuses and ailments in order that he may not have to fly any further missions. Yossarian is not truly sick when he is in the hospital at the beginning of the book, but rather carrying out a supposed liver infection in order that he will not have to fly any more missions. He decides that he will spend the rest of the war within the comforts of the hospital, and will never again do battle (Heller 8). This mainly shows Yossarian’s fear of the war, and even greater, his fear of being killed. His disobedience is demonstrated in his refusal to fly more missions after Colonel Cathcart, who is constantly raising the number of missions required before one can return home, raises the required number to seventy-five.

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Yossarian simply refuses to fly them, causing quite a commotion within the group of officers. “Like us. Join us. Be our pal. Say nice things about us here and back in the States. Now, that isn’t asking to much is it?” (Heller 416).

After Yossarian had refused to fly more missions, he was, under these circumstances, given the opportunity to return home. He could either accept or be court-martialed. At this point, Yossarian becomes disobedient and brave, as he refuses to accept to this agreement. Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn’s reason for making this offer was so Yossarian, who was making them appear to be inadequate officers, would not hinder their opportunities for future promotions, and possibly even an article about them in “The Saturday Evening Post,” which was their highest goal. Part of the agreement was that Yossarian would praise them as being superior officers, and, Yossarian, having a captain rank would have influence on those who might promote the Colonels.

However, because Yossarian refuses, due to the corrupt nature of the offer, the only other option is a court-martial. Or he could run away, which, with the help of other members of his squadron, he successfully attempts. While there is a high possibility that he will get caught, this is, to him, the only possible solution to the dilemma. Joseph Heller divides Yossarian’s character into three sections in Catch 22. When first drafted to war, Yossarian is not only brave, but also entirely obedient to his superior officers. However, due to the death of a friend as well as frustrations toward Cathcart, Yossarian becomes disobedient and afraid until he once again, feels forced into bravery, although still disobedient. Heller uses extremely strong characterization in order that the reader may get a feel for what Heller believes to be the worthlessness and frivolousness of war.