Catch-22 – Book 3

We’ve all experienced the catch-22 of being at the dentist’s office, with the dentist all up in your mouth, while you’re asked that question that you’re expected to answer.  How can you talk while the dentist has his hands in your mouth?  Classic catch-22!

I started reading “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, and was incredibly surprised (and delighted at the coincidence) of a catch-22 that I experienced just yesterday.

I have been a teacher for 5 years and my husband’s job has us moving in the near future, so my job is going to change.  We’ll be in transit somewhat and I figured a good option for me would be to substitute teach.  Denver, Colorado requires a background check with paper fingerprints (like getting the prints done on paper with ink), not digital like my county in Florida currently requires.  The Colorado Department of Education says to just show up or call ahead to a law enforcement office to get the prints done and the law enforcement office will take care of everything.  Unforunately, the Colorado Department of Education doesn’t provide the paper fingerprinting form and neither do the law enforcement agencies!  How am I supposed to get fingerprinted, which is a requirement, but no one will let me have a card for the prints?  After many more phone calls, I found a way to order the cards, but still, that’s a great catch-22, and such a welcome coincidence since I was currently reading the book!

“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller was definitely a unique story.  I’ve never read a book quite like it!  Yossarian is a bombardier in the military in Italy who does anything he can to get out of flying his missions and to be sent home.  Unfortunately, every time he completes the required amount of missions, or gets close to it, the mission requirement is upped.  Also preventing him (and the other men) from leaving is the fateful Catch-22, which says that “a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.”  So you’re crazy for flying the missions and should be sent home, but just asking to be relieved means you’re sane enough to keep flying!

“Catch-22” is filled with catch 22’s and quirky scenarios.  One scenario has a doctor who is terrified of flying and has bombardiers lie to say he is with them in the plane (since he is required to fly a certain amount of hours).  On one of these instances, the plane crashes and those aboard die.  Since the doctor did not bail out (even though he is standing there with other soldiers watching the plane crash), the doctor must be dead.  His wife is informed, he stops being paid and fed, etc.

“Catch-22” is a witty, quirky story where it seems that every situation has its idiocracy and a catch 22.  I would recommend it mainly because it’s so different from anything I’ve read and it was humorous.  I wouldn’t laugh out loud, but you have to give the book some credit for making me SMILE when someone dies, based on the irony of the death.

I shared my catch-22 story with you!  Tell me something you’ve experienced!



10 thoughts on “Catch-22 – Book 3

    • Thanks, Heather! I actually didn’t have to read it in high school, which is why it was so important to me to read it now. It definitely makes aspects of war look ridiculous, but I like how they continue to ask the question to Yossarian, something like “What if everyone felt that way?” about not wanting to complete missions.

      It makes me wonder if it means that no one would fight back in a war or if there wouldn’t be war to begin with.


  1. I remember loving the book, bt now it’s very fuzzy in my mind. I guess I’ll re-read it. With so many books out there on the list to read, it’s hard to think about reading a book twice.

    One of my favorite bumper stickers of all times is “Suppose they threw a war and nobody came”.


    • That’s similar to what Heather and I were talking about in the other comment, where Yossarian is asked what would happen if everyone felt the way he did, and didn’t want to continue the war. Maybe it’s the ultimate catch-22, no one wanting to fight means war can’t exist.


  2. Great book review. I absolutely love this book. I was not forced to read it in school but I found it a few years ago and have read it twice now. I wish I would have found it while I was in the military, It would have made a lot of the nonsense we dealt with appear more comical instead of just frustrating.
    Good luck on your 100 books in a year adventure.


    • Coming from my non-military perspective, I wasn’t sure how someone who was in the military would feel about the book. I’m glad that you enjoyed it and appreciated some of the nuances that make both the military, and the book, humorous.

      Thanks for reading, Greg!


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