Jumbo Shrimp -- The Power of Paradox
“The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them." (p. 413)
“Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office." (p. 116)
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions."
These three quotations all contain paradox – an apparent contradiction that is, nonetheless true. Paradox is the main literary device at work in Catch-22, because one of Heller’s rhetorical arguments is that contradictions serve as the basis of many governmental institutions. Paradox and dark humor serve to express Heller’s contempt for this way of operating.
Writing Prompts: In the first quotation, how is Yossarian “jeopardizing" his basic constitutional rights? How is he at risk of losing them by using them? How does Heller use the story of Major Major’s promotion to ridicule the way that the military, and government institutions, use promotion to move staff around? What is a paradox that you have run into during your experience with school, or with other institutions of authority? Tell the story of that paradox with sufficient detail and plot so that a reader who does not know you can easily follow the story.