Topics for Discussion

1. Catch-22 is an allegory; that is, each character represents some human quality. List the major Characters and their allegorical characteristics.

2. Yossarian’s nickname is Yo-Yo. He marches backwards; he clings naked to a tree, only to be brought down by one of Milo’s schemes. Examine how Heller uses details to build Yossarian into a symbol. What is Yossarian a symbol of?

3. The names of several other Characters are also symbolic-names like Orr, Snowden, Scheisskopf, Minderbinder. What is the effect of these names on the tone of the novel?

4. Is Yossarian crazy? Is he insane? Is there a difference?

5. What is “black humor”? How does it contribute to the Themes of Catch-22?

6. Catch-22 was published in 1961, during the early days in the presidency of John Kennedy, a time when many Americans were very optimistic and idealistic. Why would a book as bleak as Catch-22 become so popular during such an era?

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