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Published: 24-12-2019

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Daneeka and Thoughtful Laughter in Catch-22

George Meredith after reasoned, “The correct test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter.” The value of encouraging thoughtful laughter in comedy lies in its ability to humorously provoke reflection of some greater notion or theme. In the dark comedy Catch-22, Joseph Heller provides witty writing and action alongside meaningful themes, a combination that sparks this type of “thoughtful laughter”. In certain, the humorous confusion and frustration surrounding the assumed death of Doc Daneeka markedly lends itself to this concept. Though the ludicrousness of the humorous scene might seem trivial in regard to the improvement of the plot, Heller incites reflection on both the energy of official documents and the dehumanization of soldiers by the inhumane officers.

Heller uses the scene as a indicates to reveal that in the course of a time of war, statements that are written on a form hold a considerably greater importance over the actuality of the circumstance. In fact, the confusion surrounding the death of Doc Daneeka is derived from Sergeant Towser and the War Department’s unwillingness to accept reality over what is shown on the flight records. “With lips nevertheless quivering, Towser rose and trudged outside reluctantly to break the negative news to Gus and Wes, discreetly avoiding any conversation with Doc Daneeka himself as he moved by the flight surgeon’s slight sepulchral figure” (Heller 340). Towser acknowledges Daneeka’s existence, but he eludes taking action simply because Daneeka “gave every indication of proving a still thornier administrative problem for him” (340). In addition to Towser’s recorded excuse for disregarding Doc Daneeka, Mrs. Daneeka struggles with reports. An illegible letter from her husband gave the woman hope right after getting a War Department telegram that her husband had been killed in action. Eventually, though, she turns her “woeful shrieks of lamentation” (341) to delight over her newfound wealth from the quite a few insurance rewards as she starts to accept the War Department’s continual denial. In a final and emotional letter from Doc Daneeka, he pleads for his wife to acknowledge his existence even so, this is immediately countered by Colonel Cathcart’s overly generic response:

“Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka:

Words can not express the deep individual grief I experienced when your husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing in action” (344).

This constant battle among the blemished and poignant letters that clearly come from an emotional Daneeka and the detached responses from the bureaucracy, although ridiculous in nature, serves to illuminate a main theme in the novel: the energy that documentation has more than humanity. On a broad scope of the novel, Catch-22 is basically documentation that might or may not even exist, but surely dictates the activity of the soldiers. Due to the fact of this scene’s which means within the text, the audience is in a position to elaborate on the humor by questioning or confirming the veracity of Heller’s claim about official documentation, thereby awakening thoughtful laughter.

This chapter also elicits thoughtful laughter as a outcome of Heller’s hyperbole of the dehumanization of the soldiers. Colonel Cathcart’s inhumane character is especially targeted through his letter to Mrs. Daneeka. One particular would predict that the group commander of a man killed would create a a lot more concerned letter rather than such a perfunctory and standard sentence. This letter is far more significant in the reality that through it enables Heller to convey the impression that the officers treat the soldiers like a collective group of unknown entities. By carrying out so, Heller advances the message that the unit in energy, such as the officers, treats its underlings with no compassion. This management even extends to the family of the soldiers, as Mrs. Daneeka equates her husband to the monetary positive aspects she receives from the government and insurance businesses. Such inhumane therapy from a spouse of a supposedly killed man displays how all individuals outside the instant concern with the soldiers have an automated response to the soldiers. Such an illogical notion encourages the reader to recognize such a flawed program, or even cogitate a new a single.

Daneeka’s assumed death stretches significantly farther than an event sparked by misunderstanding. Heller depicts every single element of the scenario in order to convey a deeper meaning of the plot. Details about Towser’s conflicting feelings and actions, Mrs. Daneeka’s fading response, and the War Department and Cathcart’s inhumanity all play a element in Heller’s message about the insanity the soldiers faced. Although on the surface the occasion comes across as a frustrating misperception, the believed behind the chapter extends into basic understandings of Heller’s message.
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