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Black Humor Comparison

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Catch-22 is not just a popular phrase among the society today in referring to a no win situation but rather it has become popular because it has been uniquely written by one of the most renowned authors of all time, Joseph Heller. This novel tackles the history and the events that took place during the World War II. It speaks of the event of war, the people, the military, the government and the whole society in general (Heller, 33). As can be seen, this historical novel has been expressed through the point of views of various characters that are essential in building and putting up the story all together. The novel has depicted the events through its consistent use of a third-person. The author has given a detailed picture of the activities of war such as the process of planning for a bomb attack, training camps and the air forces. However, the most remarkable thing about the novel is the usage of black humor.

Apparently, black humor is defined, in the literary sense, as the usage of humor in depicting the paradox view of the modern world. Exaggeration is usually the apparent result. Joseph Heller has used this black humor so strongly in his novel. As a matter of fact, he used black humor to define Catch-22 as something that can make a person be in the midst of a situation considered to have no way out yet another decision or rule will certainly allow another way out. With the intensified following of the novel, it has been adopted into a movie. Most people might think that the novel has lost its touch with the showing of the movie but the truth of the matter is that the movie has added greatly to the success of the novel which many critics and viewers loved.

Evaluation of Strengths and Weaknesses

Apparently, the adaptation of Catch-22 into a movie has not made much difference in terms of the usage of black humor. It still depicts the claim of the novel that while an insane person would go into a war and yet the sane one would disperse the idea is still present in the movie. Just as when the focus of the novel has been into the pretense of insanity in order to escape being engaged in the war, the same scenario is also present in the movie (Cupitt, 2005). But the best thing about the movie is the fact that the usage of black humor has become even more graphical and represented so powerfully. The movie was able to depict and convey to the audience the intention of the novel. The novel has become so real. In reading the novel, it cannot be denied that ones imagination must be released in order to see and depict what is happening. There are times also that black humor did not work in the novel as there is a tendency that the readers are not able to grasp the message behind such sarcasm, irony and ridicule. But the with the movie, the black humor is emphasized through the acting prowess of the actors and the characters they portrayed as well. The manner of expressing the dialogues made an impact as well in conveying the sarcasm. This is not to say, however, that the novel lags behind the movie. It just so happen that the movie does not require imagination. Everything is graphically presented. This is what needed in the present day where everyone is so visual. The message has been felt more in the movie than that of the novel because the reactions, dialogues and the humor itself has been made to be so real that all audience are able to relate to.

Critics and the Novel

In most cases, writers and authors employ different techniques in writing in order to make their piece of art compelling and enjoyable to read. This is particularly true with authors who have  inclination in writing about historical themes and events. The main thing that is being avoided by authors is to become boring. Literary piece should be entertaining and engrossing to the readers. Hence, authors are combining at least 3 techniques in one writing. They use satire, irony and black humor. The latter is preferred by many critics, readers and viewers. This is because of the fact that while they are enjoying the literary piece, they are actually learning and being guided to think. For example, Heller tried to make a comical story with the character of Yossarian. This man wants to escape his so-called mad reality of war by becoming insane. The black humor in this scenario made the story enjoyable and entertaining yet it depicts the reality of war that it is not a win-win situation. Nobody wins and nobody will get their freedom with war. Critics love how Heller used black humor to make people think and nod their heads in every lesson and revelation made out of the black humor used in the story.


With all the foregoing, it can be seen that the novel Catch-22 is a literary piece field with stories about war, life and its realities. War does not bring a good feeling to the world be it the soldiers, the bombardiers and the civilian societies. But then again, it is a serious thing to tackle and the message is always shrugged off aside (Heller, 57). However, with the written Catch-22, the message was sent clear and powerfully striking. It hits the central theme of war which is “war is a no win situation.” Regardless of how boring the subject can be, Heller in his novel and the movie adaptation, made quite an impression to the general public.

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