Why Its Puzzling The Paragraph Were Yossarian Played That Game


Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch-22” is known for its complex narrative structure and the enigmatic nature of its protagonist, Yossarian. Throughout the book, there are several puzzling moments, but one particular paragraph stands out where Yossarian played that game. This article aims to explore the reasons behind the puzzlement caused by this paragraph and its significance in the overall story.

The Context

In the midst of World War II, Yossarian, a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Forces, finds himself caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. The term “Catch-22” becomes a symbol of the absurdity and paradoxical nature of war. Yossarian’s struggle to maintain his sanity and escape the clutches of the military system forms the core of the novel.

The Paragraph

“And then there were the times when he played that game with Hungry Joe, Dunbar, and the others, the one in which he would sit back in the hospital tent with his legs crossed beneath him and count aloud to seventy in his head while the others went about their business, and then he would scratch his nose with his middle finger and leap to his feet and shout, ‘I’ve got it!’ and run out into the open with his arms waving triumphantly.”

Puzzlement and Interpretation

This particular paragraph puzzles readers due to its seemingly random and nonsensical nature. Yossarian’s game is strange and inexplicable, leaving readers questioning its purpose and significance. The act of counting to seventy and then scratching his nose with his middle finger doesn’t seem to hold any obvious meaning.

However, this puzzlement reflects the absurdity that pervades the entire novel. Yossarian’s game can be seen as a metaphor for his desperate attempts to find meaning and control in a chaotic world. It represents his defiance of the madness around him and his refusal to conform to the logic of war. The seemingly nonsensical actions highlight the irrationality of the war and the struggle for individual freedom within such a system.

Symbolism and Satire

Heller uses this paragraph as a tool to satirize the military bureaucracy and the illogical nature of war. The game Yossarian plays serves as a symbol of resistance and rebellion against the dehumanizing effects of war. It showcases the human need for individuality and the search for meaning in a senseless world.


The paragraph where Yossarian played that game is just one example of the many puzzling elements in Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22.” It represents the author’s satirical critique of war and bureaucracy, while also conveying the struggle for autonomy and sanity in an irrational world. Through this paragraph, readers are invited to question the absurdities of war and reflect on the human condition within chaotic systems.

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