Catch-22

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They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.
Allan K. Chalmers
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Catch-22 is a 1961 novel by Joseph Heller, an anti-war novel and a general critique of bureaucracy.

The novel's title is from a catch, or snag, described in the quote from chapter 5 below. The phrase "catch-22" almost immediately entered common usage for that kind of conundrum or self-defeating logic (see wikipedia catch-22 logic).

Chapter 1

  • "There's no patriotism, that's what it is. And no matriotism, either." Chapter 1, page 9
  • "Dunbar was lying motionless on his back again with his eyes staring up at the ceiling like a doll's. He was working hard at increasing his life span. He did it by cultivating boredom." Chapter 1, page 9

Chapter 2

  • "As always occurred when he quarreled over principles in which he believed passionately, he would end up gasping furiously for air and blinking back bitter tears of conviction. There were many principles in which Clevinger believed passionately. He was crazy." Chapter 2, page 26. ('Vintage' edition Chapter 2, pg. 19)
  • "an unreasonable belief that everybody around him was crazy, a homicidal impulse to machine-gun strangers, retrospective falsification, an unfounded suspicion that people hated him and were conspiring to kill him." Chapter 2, pg. 29 ('Vintage' edition - Chapter 2, pg 23)

Chapter 3

  • "He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive." Chapter 3, pg. 38

Chapter 4

  • "You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age?" Chapter 4, pg. 48

Chapter 5

  • "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."
    "That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.
    "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Chapter 5, pg. 55 (pg.46 in Simon & Schuster 2004)

Chapter 6

  • "'Catch-22...says you've always got to do what your commanding officer tells you to.
    "'But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.'
    "'But they don't say you have to go home. And regulations do say you have to obey every order. That's the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-seventh Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you'd still have to fly them, or you'd be guilty of disobeying an order of his. And then the Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters would really jump on you.'" Chapter 6, pg. 58

Chapter 8

  • "History did not demand Yossarian's premature demise, justice could be satisfied without it, progress did not hinge upon it, victory did not depend on it. That men would die was a matter of necessity; which men would die, though, was a matter of circumstance, and Yossarian was willing to be the victim of anything but circumstance. But that was war." Chapter 8, pg. 75
  • "Clevinger was a troublemaker and a wise guy. Lieutenant Scheisskopf knew that Clevinger might cause even more trouble if he wasn't watched. Yesterday it was the cadet officers; tomorrow it might be the world. Clevinger had a mind, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf had noticed that people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times. Such men were dangerous, and even the new cadet officers whom Clevinger had helped into office were eager to give damning testimony against him. The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with." Chapter 8, pg. 80
  • "I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning." Chapter 8, pg. 80

Chapter 9

  • "With a little ingenuity and vision, he had made it all but impossible for anyone in the squadron to talk to him, which was just fine with everyone, he noticed, since no one wanted to talk to him anyway." Chapter 9, pg. 111

Chapter 12

  • "Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead." Chapter 12, pg. 133-134
  • "The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live." Chapter 12, pg. 134
  • Yossarian sidled up drunkenly to Colonel Korn at the officers' club one night to kid with him about the new Lepage gun that the Germans had moved in. "What Lepage gun?" colonel Korn inquired with curiosity. "The new three hundred and forty four millimeter Lepage glue gun," Yossarian answered. "It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air." Chapter 12, p 134 - 135

Chapter 13

  • "You know, that might be the answer - to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That's a trick that never seems to fail." Chapter 13, pg. 149

Chapter 14

  • "Yossarian's heart sank. Something was terribly wrong if everything was all right and they had no excuse for turning back." Chapter 14, pg. 150

Chapter 15

  • "Climb, you bastard! Climb, climb, climb, climb!" Chapter 15, pg. 157

Chapter 17

  • "They couldn't dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn't keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian's tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane." Chapter 17, pg.176

Chapter 20

  • The chaplain had "failed miserably, had choked up once again in the face of opposition from a stronger personality. It was a familiar, ignominious experience, and his opinion of himself was low." Chapter 20, pg. 208

Chapter 22

  • "But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don't make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share." Chapter 22, pg. 241

Chapter 23

  • "'What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can't all be worth dying for.'" Chapter 23, pg. 257

Chapter 24

  • "This time Milo had gone too far. Bombing his own men and planes was more than even the most phlegmatic observer could stomach, and it looked like the end for him...Milo was all washed up until he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made." Chapter 24, pg. 269

Chapter 25

  • "It was possible that there were other vus of which he had never heard and that one of these other vus would explain succinctly the baffling phenomenon of which he had been both a witness and a part; it was even possible that none of what he thought had taken place, really had taken place, and that he was dealing with an aberration of memory rather than of perception, that he never really had thought he had seen what he now thought he once did think he had seen, that his impression now that he once had thought so was merely the illusion of an illusion, and that he was only now imagining that he had ever once imagined seeing a naked man sitting in a tree at the cemetery." Chapter 25, pg. 278-279
  • "...the chaplain was ready now to capitulate to despair entirely but was restrained by the memory of his wife, whom he loved and missed so pathetically with such sensual and exalted ardor, and by the lifelong trust he had placed in the wisdom and justice of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, humane, universal, anthropomorphic, English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon, pro-American God, which had begun to waver." Chapter 25, pg. 285

Chapter 26

  • The end result of experiencing terror and injury is not an increase in compassion, but a tendency toward callousness.

Chapter 27

  • "You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!" Chapter 27, pg. 309

Chapter 29

  • "that's the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority." Chapter 29, pg. 335

Chapter 30

  • "Blond, pale Kid Sampson, his naked sides scrawny even from so far away, leaped clownishly up to touch the plane at the exact moment some arbitrary gust of wind or minor miscalculation of McWatt's senses dropped the speeding plane just low enough for a propeller to slice half of him away. There was the briefest, softest tsst! filtering audibly through the shattering, overwhelming howl of the plane's engines, and then there was just Kid Sampson's two pale, skinny legs, standing stock-still on the raft for what seems like a full minute or two before they toppled over backward into the water finally with a faint, echoing splash and turned completely upside down so that only the grotesque toes and the plaster-white soles of Kid Sampson's feet remained in view." Chapter 30, pg. 348

Chapter 31

  • "Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. And Mrs. Daneeka: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action." Chapter 31, pg. 355

Chapter 34

  • "The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character." Chapter 34
  • "It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean to disappear somebody?" Chapter 34, pg. 378

Chapter 36

  • "And looking very superior, he tossed down on the table a photostatic copy of a piece of V mail in which everything but the salutation "Dear Mary" had been blocked out and on which the censoring officer had written, 'I long for you tragically. A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army.'" Chapter 36, pg. 393

Chapter 39

  • "Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault. The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them." Chapter 39, pg. 415

Chapter 41

  • "We've got your pal, buddy. We've got your pal." Chapter 41, pg. 446
  • "Here was God's plenty, allright, he thought bitterly as he stared- liver, lungs, kidneys, ribs, stomach and bits of the stewed tomatoes that Snowden had eaten that day for lunch." Chapter 41, pg. 450
  • "He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden's secret. Ripeness was all." Chapter 41, pg. 440

Chapter 42

  • "When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven, or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and human tragedy." Chapter 42, pg. 455
  • "Run away to Sweden, Yossarian. And I'll stay here and persevere. Yes. I'll persevere. I'll nag and badger Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn every time I see them. I'm not afraid." Chapter 42, pg. 461

Source

  • "And don't tell me God works in mysterious ways," Yossarian continued [...] "There's nothing mysterious about it, He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?"
  • "There are billions of conscientious body cells oxidating away day and night like dumb animals at their complicated job of keeping me alive and healthy, and every one is a potential traitor and foe."
  • "He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down."
  • "On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain the chores would not be done."
  • He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
  • "I yearn for you tragically. A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army." In the original version the Chaplain is R O Shipman
  • "I'm talking about cooperating. Favors. You do a favor for me, I'll do one for you. Get it?"

"Do one for me," Yossarian requested. "Not a chance," Doc Daneeka answered.

  • "Doc Daneeka was Yossarian's friend and would do just about nothing in his power to help him."

pg.29, paperback.

  • "Who is Spain?"

"Why is Hitler?"
"When is right?"
"Where was that stooped and mealy-colored old man I used to call Poppa when the merry-go-round broke down?"
"How was trump at Munich?"
"Ho-ho beriberi."
"Balls!"
all rang out in rapid succession, and then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer:
"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?" (pg 34 Paperback)

  • He was polite to his elders, who disliked him. Whatever his elders told him to do, he did. They told him to look before he leaped, and he always looked before he leaped. They told him never to put off until the next day what he could do the day before, and he never did. He was told to honor his father and his mother, and he honored his father and his mother. He was told that he should not kill, and he did not kill, until he got into the Army. Then he was told to kill, and he killed. He always turned the other cheek on every occasion and always did unto others exactly as he would have had others do unto him. When he gave to charity, his left hand never knew what his right hand was doing. He never took the name of the Lord his God in vain, committed adultery or coveted his neighbour's ass. In fact, he loved his neighbour and never even bore false witness against him. Major Major's elders disliked him because he was such a flagrant nonconformist. Page 96 (paperback).
  • Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Page 94 (paperback).
  • To Yossarian, the idea of pennants as prizes was absurd. No money went with them, no class privileges. Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else. Page 81 (paperback).
  • (last lines:) "The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off."

External links

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