Satire & Catch-22 - Highline Public Schools

Satire & Catch-22
"They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him
"No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
"Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian
"They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger
answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
"And what difference does that make?"
What is satire?
- A form of critique that uses humor to mock
or attack an individual or idea
- Hopes to promote change; incite awareness
of an issue
Types of Satire
Satire may be classified by tone. Two main
1. Horatian: light-hearted tone; tolerant, witty,
2. Juvenalian: harsh, bitter tone; angry,
caustic, resentful, personal
Satirical Styles
- Direct satire: directly (explicitly) stated
- Indirect satire: communicated through
characters in a situation
Satire tends to focus most on:
- politics
- religion
- philosophy
- sexuality
- current events
Satirical Elements: Irony
- Irony: the actual intent is expressed in words that
carry the opposite meaning
- Verbal: an inversion of meaning - say one thing but mean
the other
- Dramatic: when the words or actions of a character carry a
meaning unperceived by himself but understood by the
- Socratic: Pretending ignorance to achieve an advantage over
an opponent
- Situational: A discrepancy between purpose and results
Satirical Devices
- Burlesque: Ridiculous exaggeration
- Farce: Low comedy (fighting, horseplay,
trickery, drunkenness) to exaggerate and
provide laughter
- Hyperbole: Exaggeration
- Incongruity: Using incompatible elements to
create a humorous contrast
Portlandia: Chicken
Satirical Devices
- Invective: Tool of anger; name-calling,
personal abuse
- Knaves & Fools: “Rogues” and “suckers” who
expose one another when they meet. Knaves
exploit one who is “asking for it.”
- Malapropism: Deliberate mispronunciation
of a name or term to poke fun
Types of Satire
- Parody: Composition imitating or burlesquing
another usually serious piece of work
- Sarcasm: Mocking or contemptuous remark
- Travesty: Presents a serious subject frivolously
to reduce it to its lowest level
- Understatement: Lack of emphasis in expression
Pun: Play on words
Topics in Catch-22
1. Bureaucracy
2. Soldiers & Heroism
3. Religion and Faith
4. Language & Power
Satirizing “justice”
"Justice?" The Colonel was astounded. "What is justice?"
"Justice, sir –"
"That's not what justice is," the colonel jeered, and began
pounding the table again with his big fat hand. "That's what
Karl Marx is. I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the
gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife
brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged
underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.
Garroting. That's what justice is when we've all got to be
Responding to Catch-22
Select a scene from the novel and analyze the impact of
Heller’s choice of a satiric writing style. Explain Heller's
purpose for utilizing satire in the scene. How does he
achieve a satirical outcome (think about the literary devices
at work in the scene: imagery, diction, symbolism,
characterization? Would the scene/book have been as
effective if it had been written in a more serious manner?
How might readers’ responses to the scene/novel have been
different? Would the scene/book have the same meaning if
the style were different?