Catch-22 is a satirical novel written by Joseph Heller, first published in 1961 It is set during World War II and centers around the efforts of Yossarian, a U.S. Air Force bombardier trying to survive his tour of duty in Italy. The novel follows Yossarian’s struggles against the absurd bureaucracy of the military and the surreal horrors of war. The title of the novel comes from a recurring motif, a “catch-22,” which is a paradoxical situation where an individual is faced with two unenviable choices, both of which leave him with an unfavorable outcome.
Essay topics about Catch-22 should focus on the themes, motifs, and styles of the novel. Here are five of the best essay topics about Catch-22:
1) Explore the use of paradox and antithesis in Catch-22. How does Heller use these devices to critique the absurdity of war, bureaucracy, and the human condition?
2) Discuss the role of the “absurd” in Catch-22. How does Heller’s use of satire and dark humor communicate his opinion of the war and the people who lead it?
3) Analyze the character of Yossarian and how he serves as a protagonist for the novel. How is he similar to, and different from, other characters in the novel?
4) Examine the motif of the “catch-22” and its importance in the novel. How does the concept shape the overall narrative, and how does it relate to Yossarian’s experience of war?
5) Discuss the importance of “escape” in Catch-22. How are the various characters’ attempts to escape their situations related, and how does their efforts reflect the themes of the novel?