Accepting insanity

Kayla Chavier, Features Editor

Before the school year even began, I was assigned the task of reading Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, for my AP Literature and Composition class. This book was a complicated entanglement of different scenarios and characters.  I fortunately made it out of the maze of Heller’s winding ideas, and I found that once I finally understood the novel, I realized that it was extremely applicable to my senior year.

The line that stood out to me was on page 123 and was spoken by the so-called-insane Yossarian.

“It doesn’t make a […] difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead” (Heller 123).

Fortunately, WA thrives in an affluent, beautiful, and welcoming town that is not in the midst of a war.  However, I find that Yossarian’s words are applicable to my studies at Westford Academy.  By the end of my high school experience, and in life in general, I want to reflect and remember that I lived fully.

The “war” that students are living in at WA does not put their lives in danger, but it puts their confidence, self-esteem, and health at risk.  

Life at WA is great, don’t get me wrong. The teachers are amazing, and we are very blessed with all of the various activities and opportunities.  I feel extremely prepared for college, and the major reason for this is the rigor in academics found at WA.

Nevertheless, if a student is not healthy or happy, how can they care about a grade? More importantly, what does the grade matter if after taking the test the student still does not understand the material?

The grade does not matter if I did not understand and appreciate what I was learning.  The message from Heller–to evade the glory of winning–inspires the majority of my attitude towards schoolwork.  Neither the savagery of war, nor the greed to be top ranking should be glorified.

I feel that the students at Westford Academy could learn from these characters that recognition and glory are not the most valuable objectives in life.  I too can learn from Yossarian’s character that a person’s “insanity” depends on the point of view. If I am insane to receive a less-competitive grade, but I go to bed at a reasonable hour, so be it.

Heller utilizes Yossarian’s character to educate his audience that personal survival and health is important and war should not be glorified.  The war between personal health and the perfect grade is unbearable, and we need to find a solution to this crisis.

I believe that Westford Academy has propelled me into the future and has prepared me for success and independence.  Nevertheless, I want to remind underclassmen of the lesson I learned the last year of my high school experience.

Appreciate every moment that you are given. Talk to other people and get to know them beyond their competitive drive for a good grade. Finally, be yourself and be content with who you are. The people who “win the war” are those who are confident in themselves. They push themselves out of society’s comfort zone everyday, and they make the world a better place.

Out of all of this, good grade or not, I hope you all try to make the world a better place.