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Feigning Insanity for a Purpose

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Feigning insanity for a purpose

People can exhibit insanity differently according to the situation. Hanan Al-Shaykh and Joseph Heller have presented this case differently. The plot of both "A Season of Madness" and "Catch 22" is similar but the context is different. Hanan Al-Shaykh has used a domestic setting whereas Joseph Heller has used a military setting. In Hanan Al-Shaykh's "A Season of Madness" the protagonist, Fatin, wants to escape her marriage by feigning insanity. Similarly, in Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" the protagonist, Yossarian, wants to escape military by feigning insanity. But both Fatin and Yossarian fail to escape as their plan backfires on them. On the whole, I disliked the character of Fatin for being disloyal to her family. I was annoyed with Al-Shaykh for portraying a woman, especially a mother, as unfaithful and selfish. I also felt sad for Fatin's husband and her children. However, I liked the way Al-Shaykh used the sea related imagery to describe Fatin's state of mind. I also enjoyed the conversation between Doc Daneeka and Yossarian because of the satire in "Catch 22". At the same time I felt sad for Yossarian because there was no way he could get himself out of the military.

"A Season of Madness" revolves around Fatin, an unhappy housewife. Fatin wanted a divorce by convincing her husband that she was insane so that she could marry the man she loved. Despite exhibiting odd behaviors she always found her husband by her side. Finally, when she realized that her husband would not leave her, she confessed to her husband and her mother-in-law that she had been feigning madness because she wanted to force her husband to divorce her so that she could go to the man she loved. But they did not believe her because her pretence had been so convincing that they thought she was really insane. Hence she ended up getting trapped by her own plan. Similarly, in "Catch 22" Joseph Heller tells us that it is practically impossible to get out of the military. Yossarian does not want to risk his life flying combat missions and so he wants to escape military by pretending to be insane. According to "Catch 22" anyone who is insane can be grounded, but he has to state first that he is insane. But if he does that then he will prove his sanity and has to fly more missions. In short, there is no way out. Whatever Yossarian does, he loses.

Al-Shaykh's description of Fatin in the first half of the story made me feel sorry for her. Fatin biting her mother-in-law's nose, asking childish questions and acting silly, like holding out her skirt to receive ice cubes, made me feel as if she had no one to understand her. But later when Al-Shaykh unfolds that Fatin had planned her madness, I was very angry. It was hard for me to believe that Fatin wanted to leave her husband despite of knowing



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