Joseph Heller's 1961 novel "Catch-22" demonstrates how human beings are devalued and ignored by bureaucracy during the war. Catch 22 takes place in Italy during Second World War and the main character of this novel, Yossarian, is an American Army pilot during the war but he realized that how crazy the war is and wants to escape from the war as soon as possible by claiming that he is insane. However, the rubbish rules created by bureaucracy give him no option but to stay at the hospital. Although, "Catch-22" is a fiction, the main character, Yossarian, shows similar characteristics and background of the author himself and the author tried to speak out to the world through him.
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It is funny that Yossarian thought it is a "better idea" to make his family and friends think he is dead during the mission and it gives readers an idea that he certainly is not ordinary and how frustrated he is because of the situation where he cannot escape from the war.
There are several symbols in the passage. The first noticeable symbol is the hospital. The hospital in the story is not just a hospital for sick or injured combats rather the place where combats use as an excuse to get away from madness of the war and also symbolizes the result of unnecessary or excessive bureaucracy. This symbolic meaning of the hospital can be easily deduced from the sentence saying "All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were kept in residence in wards of their own."(Heller) The other symbol used in the passage is the name that Yossarian used when he censor letters which is Washington Irving. Washington Irving, American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century,(wikipedia) symbolizes the silent resistance against the bureaucracy. The name, Washington Irving, also allude that the author was influenced by Washington Irving's satire novels.
Although, Yossarian is a fictional character, he reflects the author himself in many ways. He, Joseph Heller, also served Second World War as an American pilot and suffered from similar experiences that Yossarian suffered in the story.(wikipedia) In addition, he tried to tell the world how useless it is to participate in the war and human beings are devalued by bureaucracy in the war.