Questions to Think About During Catch 22

Below are some discussion questions prepared by Pam B. Cole a Professor of English Education & Literacy at Kennesaw State University. Use these as a guide to help further your understanding of this nation-wide sensation.

Discussion Questions
1. A complex, chaotic structure makes the novel difficult to follow. How might this structure parallel, represent, and/or elevate themes in the story? How does Heller piece together the chronology of events?

2. Heller’s dialogue style is reminiscent of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” comic routine of the 1940s. How does Heller use this back-and-forth disorderly logic to develop character?

3. Chapters tend to be named for individuals in the story; however, titles are deceptive because they tend to be about other characters. Why might Heller have named chapters after one character but have written them about another?

4. Yossarian shares a tent with a “dead man.” What role does this mysterious character play?

5. Chief White Halfoat is illiterate, yet he is assigned to military intelligence. Identify and discuss other examples of Heller’s cynicism toward the government and/or other institutions.

6. Choose a poignant passage/scene. How does Heller make this passage/scene work (e.g., how does he evoke emotion in the reader)?

7. Of the multiple characters in the story, which are you drawn to the most? Why? Are there any completely moral characters in the story? Explain.

8. Major Major is described as “the most mediocre of men.” What do the events in his past and present life tell us about humanity and destiny?

9. Both Captain Wren and Captain Piltchard are described as “mild” and “soft-spoken” officers, and they love the war. Why might their personalities be fitting for someone who loves the war?

10. Yossarian returns to the hospital several times. What role do the hospital settings play in the story? In what way might the hospital settings foil the bombing/war scenes? In what way might they be reflective times for Yossarian? For other characters?

11. Compare and contrast Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. Are they both hypocrites? Why or why not?

12. Circumstances surrounding Snowden’s death are revealed slowly. What does his death mean to Yossarian? To others?

13. Discuss the significance of déjà vu in the story and how it relates to religious faith.

14. While much of the novel is military satire, the story does delve into the private sector. How might Mrs. Daneeka be a satirical character?

15. One of the ironies of the story occurs at the end in which Yossarian has an opportunity to go home a hero. In essence, he has the system in a Catch-22. Explain.

16. Discuss whether the ending of Catch-22 is uplifting or downbeat. Is it a victory or a defeat?

Further Discussion

17. Most of the characters in Catch-22 are over-the-top in the sense that, in many ways, they are caricatures of themselves. What must Heller have known about humanity to make them all so recognizable?

18. What do you believe is Heller’s view of a capitalistic society?

19. Is Catch-22 a comic novel or a story of morality? Explain.

20. What does Catch-22 say about war?

21. Discuss the literary significance of Catch-22 and its relevance in the twenty-first century.

22. How does Catch-22 compare to other war stories you have read? How does it compare to other satires?

23. How might Catch-22 be described as an allegory?

24. Discuss how the novel can be described as a struggle between the individual and an institution.

25. Discuss the meaning of sanity as it applies to the story.

 

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Help Us Pick Our Last Book of 2017

It’s time to pick our November & December book club book. We are ending the year with a classic! Help us pick which classic to read by voting below.

Questions to Think About During Little Princes

Below are some discussion questions to think about while reading or after, if you have already finished:

1. What most impressed you about the author and the children with whom he came into contact? Did any aspect of the story upset you? Did Conor’s story inspire you?

2. In your opinion, what was it about these children that touched Conor so deeply? Were you moved by their plight? What about the increasing number of children growing up in poverty in America? Do you see these children in the same way, or do you see their situations differently?

3. How might American children help their counterparts in places like Nepal? Thinking about the Little Princes, do you think we as Americans spoil our children and ourselves — do we buy more than what can truly be appreciated?

4. When Conor returned to Nepal he met the mother of one of the Little Princes. How did this affect him personally? And how did it influence the course of events that followed?

5. How did volunteering at Little Princes prepare Conor for having a family of his own? What did these children teach him about himself and the world?

6. At the beginning of Little Princes, Conor did not see himself as a global humanitarian, yet his visit to Nepal changed everything. What is it about him — and others like him introduced in Little Princes — that sets him apart from those who don’t volunteer or get involved?

7. How did Golkka, the man who trafficked many of these children, get away with his nefarious practices for so long? Human trafficking has become a worldwide problem, affecting millions. Why has it flourished and what steps might help stop it? How might you play a role? Would you consider doing so? Why or why not?

8. Do you empathize with the parents of the Little Princes children and others? Do you understand why they gave their children up? What might you do given similar circumstances?

9. What lessons did you take away from reading Little Princes?

Help Us Pick Our Next Book

It’s time to pick our September & October book club book. The theme is: Literary vs Sociology. Pick your favorite below or feel free to add your own suggestions.

May & June Book Announced

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The Time Traveler’s Wife By Audrey Niffenegger

National Bestseller

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger’s cinematic storytelling that makes the novel’s unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, The Time Traveler’s Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come.

Help Us Pick Our Next Book

It’s time to pick our May & June book club book. The theme is: Books Made into Movies. Pick your favorite below or feel free to add your own suggestions.

March & April Book Announced

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Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

New York Times Bestseller

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she has only tried to make the world a little better and a little freer.

But nearly a half-century into her career, something funny happened to the octogenarian: she won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg first made her name as a feminist pioneer are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute.

Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg’s family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.

January & February Book Announced

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

#1 National Bestseller

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

2017 Reading Challenge

Because our group is bimonthly, we wanted to establish a yearly challenge for those who would like to read more often. This list was created by Modern Mrs. Darcy and offers a variety of choices!

1. A book published this year.
2. A book chosen by your partner or BFF.
3. A banned book.
4. A book you previously abandoned.
5. A book that intimidates you.
6. A book you’ve already read at least once.

Keep us posted on your challenge and which books you are choosing!