Honors English 11
27 January, 2003
Pleasure and Disquietude
The dictionary defines “pleasure” as happy amusement, while
“disquietude” is defined as worry. Even though these words seem quite
contrasting, a perfect combination of pleasure and disquietude in writing
is seen as what makes a novel exceptional. Many novels entertain you with
humor and happiness while at the same time, solving a conflict. A great
example of a great combination of pleasure and disquietude in a novel is in
Catch-22 by: Joseph Heller. In many instances throughout the novel there
are conflicting feelings about war, society and humanity.
Heller uses satire when referring to war and it’s values, as well as
attacking society using the war’s setting. He makes society out to be dark
and twisted due to his references of the after-war and the effects on
society during the war. He illustrates how terrible the war can be for the
fighting soldier, but how wonderful it can be for someone significant, a
power holder, who has a sense of high rank and safety, that makes one
almost egotistical. The soldiers all seem to blend as one as they lose
their individuality by focusing purely on rules. This is seen when Lt.
Scheisskopf says that he views men as more as puppets than human beings. He
shows this when watching a parade he says he wishes they would be strung
together so their movements would all coincide as puppets on strings would.
Another instance where this theme is shown is when Colonel Cathcart
increases missions, not for military reasoning but for the better of his
Catch-22 uses much humor when showing that people are nothing but
government property in a bureaucratic sense. One keen example is when one
man hurts his leg and it told to take good care of it solely because it is
government property. In this novel society is being deemed as obsessed
with rules and regulations instead of caring about people as individuals. I
think that Heller uses the stereotypical accusations of war to emphasize
how the reader typically views war life.
In this novel many different types of detailed descriptions are used
to enhance the reader’s mental picture of what is going on. He uses strange
and unfamiliar adjectives to describe things to make the reader think and
re-analyze what is going on. Some examples of these deranged descriptions
would be when Heller states “Doc Daneeka, roosted dolorously like a
shivering turkey buzzard” or “Yossarian, wet with the feeling of warm
slime”. These descriptions aide in showing the problems with attacking to
the people who are doing the attacking by making them take another,
indirect look at what is going on. This usually causes further analyzing
among the attacker, concluding in the realization of the faults.
There is very apparent use of a perfect combination of pleasure and
disquietude in the death of some men. In some instances men die of normal
causes in times of war (i.e. being shot, being bombed, etc.). But others
die in almost humorous ways. For example when Clevinger’s plane disappeared
in the clouds, Dunbar simply disappears from the hospital, and Sampson is
killed by a propeller of one of the bombers. This makes you almost laugh,
but at the same time, it is death, and typically death is not funny. Heller
proves the faults of society by making humorous references to death.
This is a great novel that shows in times of great despair people
turn and give their individuality up for rules, regulations and acceptance,
because they are unfamiliar with what is going on, and they are scared.
This novel is a perfect example of the old saying “The strong will