catch 22 - caught in a situation aritz branton   "It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him." That's how the novel "Catch 22" starts. But Yossarian, an air force pilot fighting in the Second World War, doesn't really fall in love with the chaplain. He sees his problems, fear and, above all, helplessness reflected in the priest's timid behaviour.

The writer Joseph Heller fought in the Second World War and he brings many of his experiences from the war to his novel but, above all else, "Catch 22" is an extraordinary literary and philosophical creation. There are no luke-warm reactions to this book, and those of us who like it take multiple ideas and references from it to look at life again and, what's more, to look at it from many different points of view. Since Joseph Heller published "Catch 22" in 1961, the book has become famous world-wide.

The director Mike Nichols made the film version in 1970. It became a symbol for pacifists and, for English-speakers, "Catch 22" has become a saying. To get out of flying combat missions, the pilots had to say that they were mad. But if they said they were mad, they weren't mad, because nobody wants to fly combat missions and, because they weren't mad, they had to carry on fighting. So the expression "Catch 22" is used to describe a bad and unavoidable situations, for instance, administrative problems. In the novel, administrative problems can be deadly. The colonels never stop raising the number of missions that the pilots have to fly. They work on their careers using pilots' deaths. The book is full of surrealist situations. For the colonels, for example, aeroplane symmetry during missions is more important than damaging the enemy; the mess officer bombs their own camp using German planes in order to make a profit; Yossarian gets bored censoring soldiers' letters when he's in hospital, crosses out whole letters, except for the prepositions, and signs off as Washington Irving.

There are many characters in the book, but Yossarian is the central character. What he sees, hears and suffers in Rome, towards the end of the book, is a real walk through hell. Heller describes the world's cruelty, suffering and sadness with great clarity. Even so, there is hope in some of the more modest characters' behaviour, feelings and interest in others. Heller surprises his readers with non-chronological narrative and his unusual style. At the same time as many sentences and passages and unexpected endings and paradoxes make us laugh. Each joke has its reason to be and possible interpretations. "Catch 22" looks into many themes, for instance society's wretchedness, competitiveness, greed, capitalism and corruption. It's a book that many readers reflect deeply on many subjects.