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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love Story

The book has the one of the most famous and touching beginnings of a novel. I have to quote the opening lines:

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.

And thus begins the classic. I somehow found it a little strange that the central characters fell in love very easily or rather quickly. But I guess that is the beauty of love, which happens just like that. Oliver finds Jenny a little repulsive in the beginning but soon that same quality intrigues him further to knowing her more. The author’s entertaining style of writing is visible in this observation by Oliver when he first sees Jennifer:

I got an A minus on the exam, coincidentally the same grade I assigned to Jenny’s legs when she first walked from behind that desk.

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Catch 22

Among other things, Catch-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book, the phrase "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type. Within the book, "Catch-22" is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic that, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions. In Heller's own words:

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's 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. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed."It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Catch 22
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