Pleasure and Disquietude
Honors English 11


27 January, 2003


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 reputation.


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 survive”.