Catch 22

Drew Steile


Prefatory Statement:


This unit focuses on thinking critically of established rules and on how societal limitations need to be confronted and put to the test. The essential question that the book Catch-22 asks is “How does a sane man live in an insane society?” It encompasses multiple perspectives on one unifying situation. All of the many characters cope with the insanity of war in their own way, be that sane or insane (right or wrong, moral or immoral) in their and especially Yossarian’s point of view. To be able to question rules and boundaries imposed on oneself is something that everyone needs to be able to do, especially when we begin to take them for granted. When we take rules for granted we become vulnerable to them, so by questioning the rules and challenging them, we can keep ourselves from being trapped by a system.

The unit will be a somewhat grueling because of the length of the book. Students are expected to read 5 chapters (around 50-60 pages) every 2 days. The majority of class time will be based on discussion of the text. A half page reflection on one of the characters should be written in class for every other reading and a short quiz for the readings in between in order to make sure students are completing the reading and understanding it.

Students at school live in a system of rules that they can find incomprehensible. They should come away from the unit knowing that sometimes “the only freedom we have is to say no.”


Class Specification:


I think this would be appropriate for 11th and 12th of any demographic. The idea of questioning social norms can be applied to systemic societal problems in racism, gender issues, etc.


Significant Assumptions



Of Learning:



I-D: 4

Evaluate the impact of an author’s decisions regarding word choice, point of view,

style and literary elements.

I-D: 5

Analyze, interpret and evaluate the use of figurative language and imagery in fiction

and nonfiction selections, including symbolism, tone, irony and satire.


Desired Outcomes:


Students should be able to…


Possible Activities


Whole-group Activities:


Small-group Activities


Individual Activities


Ongoing Activities


Student Resources



Launch Activity


I would begin by having the students read the short story “The Lady or the Tiger” and discuss in small groups how the story should end. Have someone in each group record the thoughts leading to a conclusion.  Small groups will then report to a larger group on what they each thought. Ask the class for examples of situations that they have encountered like this or I would give an example of my own (e.g. I needed a visa to get a job abroad, but a visa requires that one has a job.) Talk about the concept of the catch-22 and how it plays into the novel.


Organization of Unit


Day 1

Set induction

“The Lady or the Tiger?”

Day 2

Ch. 1-5


Day 3

Webquest: Satire

Day 4

Ch. 6-10 Reflections


Day 5

Political Cartoon Analysis

Day 6

Ch. 11-15

Quiz #1

“Dulce et Decorum Est”


Day 7

Political cartoon analysis presentations

Start creating cartoons

Day 8

Ch. 16-20 Reflections


Day 9

Reading day

Work on Cartoons/read

Day 10

Ch. 21-25

Quiz #2

Discussion: Milo

Cartoons due

Day 15

Ch. 26-30

463rd Bomber group photos

Computer lab


Day 16

Character jigsaw groups

Day 17

Ch. 30-35

Quiz #3

Character Jigsaw group work

Day 18

Character Jigsaw group work

Day 19

Ch. 36-42 Reflections

Discussion: Snowden


Day 20

Character discussion group presentations







Lesson Topic: “The Lady or the Tiger”    Grade level: 11-12

Length of lesson: 50 mins.


Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

I-D: 4

Evaluate the impact of an author’s decisions regarding word choice, point of view,

style and literary elements.


Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand:

How to interpret a dilemma of morality/justice.

How these come up in our everyday lives


Essential Question(s):

How can individuals disrupt a system’s rules that seem unfair?


What freedom do we have in a system that is unbalanced?


Student objectives (outcomes):

Students will be able to:

- Come up with their own examples of dilemmas they’ve encountered.

- Decide on how the story ends, What comes out of the door, the tiger or the lady? And be able to justify the decision



Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

Group discussion, written notes and conclusion


Presentation to class



Other Evidence:

-Examples of dilemma

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

Materials: Short story, “The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton

Group Reading: Get students into groups of 5 or 6 and give each student a copy of the story to read on their own or as a group. One person can read to the group they can pass the story around part by part. 25 Min.

Small Group Discussion: Have the groups decide on an ending to the story. One person in the group should take notes on what was discussed, and then the group’s conclusion. 10 min.

Group Discussion: Groups report to the whole class their ending to the story, and how/why they came to that conclusion. 8 minutes

Relation to Catch-22: Give the students an example of a dilemma or catch-22 that you have come across. Ask students to come up with examples of their own dilemmas they have or could run into. 7 minutes


Lesson Topic: Photos of the 463rd Bombardment Group    Grade level: 11-12


Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

I-D: 11

Demonstrate how literary works reflect the historical contexts that shaped them.


Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand:

Some of the background of the WWII bombing unit described in Catch-22


How the background information synthesizes with their knowledge of what is happening in the book.


Essential Question(s):

How can background information contribute to our understanding of the text?


What is Catch-22 saying or not saying about the horrors or war?


Student objectives (outcomes):

Students will be able to:

  • to infer information from images
  • Synthesize what we know about the Bombardiers of Catch-22 and what they learn about the 463rd




Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

Response to images


Reflection on the images in comparison to the text



Other Evidence:


Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

Materials: History and Photos of the 463rd Bombardment group -,  giant sticky notes, markers

Preparation: put up a few relevant images from the slideshow section of the website (of the camp, the bombing runs, damage, etc.) around the room with a giant sticky note under each one.

Instruction: Have students go around the room from picture to picture and write on each of the giant stick notes what they infer about the war and the lives of soldiers from the pictures.

Group discussion: Compile relevant ideas of the war and soldiers’ lives with the class. Take concepts that come up on multiple images, and ideas that could have to do with the novel.

Reflection: Students reflect on how the information from the images gave them new insight to the novel. Ask them to give examples of things they saw that coincided with the novel and what things gave a new understanding.

Lesson idea from Danielle Restuccia's Teaching Portfolio:


Teacher Resources


“The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton


“Dulce et Decorum Est”


463rd Bombardment Group Website


Catch-22 Webquest by Matt Thomas


The Purpose and Method of Satire by Robert Harris


Satire Webquest







Cartoon Analysis Handout from:


Cartoonists use simple objects, or symbols, to stand for larger concepts or ideas.

After you identify the symbols in a cartoon, think about what the cartoonist intends each symbol to stand for.


Sometimes cartoonists overdo, or exaggerate, the physical characteristics of people or things in order to make a point.

When you study a cartoon, look for any characteristics that seem overdone or overblown. (Facial characteristics and clothing are some of the most commonly exaggerated characteristics.) Then, try to decide what point the cartoonist was trying to make through exaggeration.


Cartoonists often label objects or people to make it clear exactly what they stand for.

Watch out for the different labels that appear in a cartoon, and ask yourself why the cartoonist chose to label that particular person or object. Does the label make the meaning of the object more clear?


An analogy is a comparison between two unlike things that share some characteristics. By comparing a complex issue or situation with a more familiar one, cartoonists can help their readers see it in a different light.

After you’ve studied a cartoon for a while, try to decide what the cartoon’s main analogy is. What two situations does the cartoon compare? Once you understand the main analogy, decide if this comparison makes the cartoonist’s point more clear to you.


Irony is the difference between the ways things are and the way things should be, or the way things are expected to be. Cartoonists often use irony to express their opinion on an issue.

When you look at a cartoon, see if you can find any irony in the situation the cartoon depicts. If you can, think about what point the irony might be intended to emphasize. Does the irony help the cartoonist express his or her opinion more effectively?

Once you’ve identified the persuasive techniques that the cartoonist used, ask yourself:

Discussion Questions



Day 2
How does Heller use language to mess with our expectations?

What is the effect of humor on a dire situation like war?


Day 4

What is interesting to you about Major Major’s impression of himself?

How does the novel’s flow of time affect its meaning?


Day 6

In what ways does “Dulce et Decorum Est” speak about war in general?

How can you relate it to the war in the book or more recent wars?

Is Kid Sampson’s death sweet and honorable?


Day 8

Do you agree with Yossarian’s position on dying in a hospital versus dying at war?

Do you think Yossarian did a good job dealing with Giuseppe’s (The man who sees everything twice) family?

If you were in the family’s position, would you appreciate what Yossarian did?


Day 10

How is Milo’s disassociation with authority similar or different to Yossarian’s?

How does he get out of flying missions? What does that say about the rules in the camp?

Who or what in your life can you relate Milo to?


Day 15

Where would you put the following characters on this scale? Why?

I always do what is morally right 1           2     3     4     5 I never do what is morally right

Chaplain Tappman




Ex-PFC Wintergreen

Colonel Cathcart

Day 19

What does Snowden represent to Yossarian?

What do you think Snowden’s secret is?





Why specifically does Yossarian complain of liver problems instead of


Who is the unknown dead soldier in Yossarian’s tent? What was his role in the war?


What is the Catch-22 that Major Major Major Major sets up?


What is the C.I.D. men’s job?


What does Yossarian do to earn his promotion to Captain?




The novel puts Yossarian’s hospital stays out of order.What is the correct chronological order?


Give two examples of hypocrisy displayed by Colonel Cathcart’s actions or even physical appearance.



If you were the old man with whom Nately argues with, how would you re-write the phrase “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”?



Assessment Task


Students will work in groups on a character analysis. Each group will talk about a different character and their motivations (Why does he/she do what he/she does? What do other characters think of he/she?), goals (What is the character after? Who is in the way of that goal?), and moral characteristics (What do they think is right/wrong?). The groups should make a rough chronological timeline for the character. Finally, each group should compose a letter from the perspective character to a family member or friend of the character. The groups will present the entirety to the class.





Students need to participate in class discussion at least 10 times. Small group discussion will count. (10 points)


Reflections and quizzes

½ page reflections turned in on due dates. Quizzes done at the beginning of each class

(5 points each, 40 points total)


Political cartoon analysis and original cartoon

Presentation (10 points)

Cartoon (10 points)


Character analysis

Motivations (10points)

Timeline (10 points)

Letter (10 points)


Total: 100 points

100-90 - A
89-80 - B

79-70 - C
69-60 - D
59-0 - F