In a work of literature, a theme is a recurring, unifying subject or idea, a motif that helps us better understand a work of art. With a novel as richly ambiguous as Catch-22, we look to themes as guides; but it is important to be open-minded and flexible while we do so. A good deal is left to individual interpretation so that one reader might disagree with another without necessarily being "wrong" or "right" about what the novel is saying. Heller employs themes in the manner of a musical composer, often introducing them briefly, then returning as the novel progresses, embellishing and augmenting as he goes. Some of the major themes involve the concept of Catch-22, the distortion of justice, the influence of greed, and the issue of personal integrity. The code under which the airmen of the 256th Squadron exist is embodied in the theme of
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