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AS and A Level: Joseph Heller

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Word count:
fewer than 1000 (1)
1000-1999 (2)

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  1. "Catch - 22… is neither apocalyptic nor a masterpiece, but a tendentious burlesque, founded upon a peculiarly subjective view of historical reality". (Bloom). To what extent do you agree with this opinion?

    Heller served as a bombardier in the 448th squadron in the U.S. Air Force in World War II. When reading Catch - 22 it can be depicted that Heller may use "Yossarian" to portray himself in the war as "Yossarian" too was a bombardier in Catch - 22. Heller emphasises throughout the novel that due to selfish men in the army like "Colonel Cathcart", who "raised the number of missions to sixty-five" more men were dying as a result. This seems to be one of the many ways that Heller condemns the military force, especially the men in higher ranks, for being heartless and killing innocent men by raising the number of missions.

    • Word count: 1594
  2. Examine the passage beginning 'Yossarian looked at him…' and ending with '…if he's got flies in his eyes (p52). Discuss the extract, examining the issues it raises and how Heller treats them here and elsewhere in the novel.

    In adopting this Heller seeks to make the text reflect the events that are portrayed within it. The shift between Yossarian discussing Catch 22 with Doc Daneeka and the catch 22 situation of 'the flies Orr saw in Appleby's eyes'* exemplifies this seemingly random development of the plot, with different strands of the novel only being revealed in a haphazard fashion. . Similarly, the change in diction and syntax within the extract from Yossarian seeming simplistic and inquisitive, to the ambiguity of 'spinning reasonableness', seems to seek to confuse. In the explanation of catch 22, the narrative becomes distinctly convoluted and, at times verbose, perhaps therefore reflecting the illogicality and confusion generated by that which it seeks to explain.

    • Word count: 1455

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