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Art will not be where it is today without the influence of war and politics. War is usually the armed conflict between two nations. War and its weapons are instruments of misfortune. It is a terrible and tragic way that unfortunate political disputes are quarreled around the world. This attempt of solving issues only results in one of the worlds major factors of poverty and high death rates. Heller's reaction to war is his writing. Heller's Catch-22 has been considered an anti-war novel and Nichols successfully translated Heller's vision and theme into the film.
Heller presents his view anti-war approach through a series of witty writing in the novel Catch-22. He says, "'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'" (Heller 1999). This is a clear indication of the mood and theme of the novel where he presents the horrific steel of war.
However, the fundamental tone of the novel is established right in the beginning of the novel when the writer says, "It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain, he fell madly in love with him" (Heller 1999). This was it; the author paid his tribute to the greatest artistic anti-war personality of all time. After this, the novel began to unwind all its aspects of peace and anti-war approaches.
Thus, the novel is an intermingled presentation of several themes at one place but all and most of these themes are subsequently aligned with the exploration of various aspects of the modern world and living within it. These numerous themes of the modern world signify the iconic existentialisms of the middle of the twentieth century. These are symbolized by the exploration specified modern signs such as the human violence with a curious insight of positive virtues presented in a juxtaposing potentiality.
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These are all result of the modern values and the modern living has learnt to live within these parameters without many questions and more often than not love them. Thus, it was the author, who pointed out the evil of war by commenting, "Havermeyer was a lead bombardier who never missed. Yossarian was a lead bombardier who had been demoted because he no longer gave a damn whether he missed or not. He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive" (Heller 1999). So much for patriotism and heroics and the author presented it in the simplest method possible.
The novel in particular reflects the happenings of the twentieth century with a certain satire in the tail. The basic title of the novel indicated the culminations of undecided cacophony of judgment with obvious judgmental errors that has been created by the modern perception of life that reduces the area of personal space by investing too much into other subsidiary elements such as extreme communications technology, aggressive consumerism, the juggernaut of media and its created hypes and of course one of the significant fall out of all these- novelty intellectual peripheral views and these are all regarded as Catch-22 as individual element or collective measures.
The novel presents a scenario where the basic aspects of the modern violent world have been manifested as the main anti-protagonist model and the prime force that the protagonist of the novel should have fought against with steel. The author speaks, "Dunbar sat up like a shot. "That's it," he cried excitedly. "There was something missing - and now I know what it is." He banged his first down into his palm. "No patriotism," he declared" (Heller 1999).
The 1970 move by Mike Nichols portrays the world of Heller in a similar tone and with similar satirical approach. A look at the dialogue would reveal the acute humor and humanity that the director implements in the movie.
"Capt. Nately: You're a shameful opportunist! What you don't understand is that it's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
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Old man in whorehouse: You have it backwards. It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees. I know.
Capt. Nately: How do you know?
Old man in whorehouse: Because I am 107-years-old. How old are you?
Capt. Nately: I'll be 20 in January.
Old man in whorehouse: If you live" (Nichols 1970). The love to live and the hate against war are clearly visible in this text. It is clear that the scene that Capt. Nately is in favor of the war and bravely but the old man is speaks the mind of the director and presents his view.
It can be stated that this form of ideology and thought process, as in Capt. Nately, is not only defective but also dangerous. Conflict view points at a problem and tries to prove it in the context history that can be easily avoided. So much so, it indicates the problem, deciphers the consequences but never indulge in providing any sort of solution that is peaceful and humanitarian in nature. It is much important to live than die as a hero in war. "Yossarian: He was very old.
Luciana: But he was a boy.
Yossarian: Well, he died. You don't get any older than that" (Nichols 1970). Nichols is very clear about what he thinks and he thinks in alignment with the author of the novel on which his movie is based upon.
War has always been going on, and it is a sad time for everyone involved. It can mean deaths, and many more people being sad, or worried. It can also mean sicknesses, hunger and loss of salvation. What art does for people is that it makes them understand in a way that no other medium does. Art has expanded from images that were only there to bring up to date the occurrences of war, to images that now show the horrific, tragic and sad impacts that arise from war. Heller's Catch-22 and Nichols' movie has successfully translated the feeling against war in their works.
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At the end, the love for peace and anti-war protest is manifested when we find the author speaks, "Appleby was as good at shooting crap as he was at playing Ping-Pong, and he was as good at playing Ping-Pong as he was at everything else. Everything Appleby did, he did well. Appleby was a fair-haired boy from Iowa who believed in God, Motherhood, and the American Way of Life, without ever thinking about any of them, and everybody who knew him liked him" (Heller 1999).