The True Purpose Of Humor In C

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The True Purpose Of Humor In C Essay, Research Paper The classic anti-war, anti-establishment, anti- (insert current debatable issue/action here) novel, Catch-22, follows the life of Yossarian, the main character, and his fellow Army Air Corps officers, stationed on an imaginary island off the coast of Italy, through a period during World War II. The book is classified under the genre of tragicomedy, yet some people see it as one extreme or the other of tragedy versus comedy. Both tragedy and comedy are very prevalent throughout the book, however the comedic portion serves a different purpose than that of the tragedy. Although a very funny book, the purpose of the humor in Catch-22 is not so much to amuse as to point out (and skewer) the absurdities and contradictions of war

(Regher). The humorous or comedic scenes and instances in the book enhance the tragedy of the whole story by bringing realizations to the reader as well as to the characters. Not only does the humor decrease as the book progresses but it does so in a way to make room for the somberness of the theme. The amusing one-liners, quick-witted comebacks, and heated debates about absolutely nothing form the basis of the comedic element. Yossarian s unnecessary nudity, Major Major Major Major s limited availability, and the old man s odd amount of witty intelligence are prime examples of this. This element of comedy seems to stick out to some readers, causing them to feel the novel is strictly a comedy. This may be because either they are not scholarly enough to notice the serious element

of the book, or because they simply choose not to notice. The movie is classified strictly as a comedy, why isn t the novel? some may ask. The reason is simple; comedy tends to sell, but Heller did not write the novel to sell for its comedy. Avery Pennarun states, The book alternates between developing a theme and comedy, which makes it far more appealing to the average person (17 September 1999). Comedy in the book and comedy in the movie however, differ. The movie is primarily funny, with the plot being told, but not as well as in the book. In the book, the dramatic theme slowly evolves into something that the reader suddenly notices to be tragic. On the surface however, the theme does not at all seem tragic. Humor is used to permanently capture the reader s attention at the

beginning so that he can be force-fed the theme later on (Pennarum). This evolution follows through the entire novel. Things become, almost unnoticeably, more and more grave. Robert Merril says Heller has in fact divided Catch-22 into three parts. The first sixteen chapters are full of comedy, humor and simple absurdities. Most all of the events taking place, such as the tragedy of the soldier in white, or the carefree promoting of officers, are presented lightheartedly. Even those events that are gruesome or depressing such as Snowden s death have a slight comic characteristic to them. As the book progresses however, the comedy and theme swap places, bringing the theme to the front while sending the comedy to a hiding place. The soldier in white for example, shows more horror of

reality the second time it is shown than the first. The entire second portion of the novel takes on a more serious tone, but still keeps its comedic element prevalent as well. The most obvious contrast between the sections of the book comes between the first and third sections. Theme seems to have even more pervasiveness in the third portion than did the humor in the first. Yossarian s harsh reality is finally brought to terms. The death of Snowden is again remembered and repeated and still is more gruesome than the last. Even the soldier in white makes yet another appearance and still has more tragic characteristics to his plight. Yossarian realizes that most everyone he has come to know in the Air Corps has died (either literally or on paper), and that he soon would do the same