Catch-22 - Wikiquote (2024)

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, first described in the quote from chapter 5below. The phrase "catch-22" almost immediately entered common usage for that kind of conundrum or sense-defeating logic.

Page-numbers refer to the 50th Anniversary Simon & Schuster edition.

Contents

  • 1 Quotes
    • 1.1 Chapter 1
    • 1.2 Chapter 2
    • 1.3 Chapter 3
    • 1.4 Chapter 4
    • 1.5 Chapter 5
    • 1.6 Chapter 6
    • 1.7 Chapter 7
    • 1.8 Chapter 8
    • 1.9 Chapter 9
    • 1.10 Chapter 10
    • 1.11 Chapter 12
    • 1.12 Chapter 15
    • 1.13 Chapter 17
    • 1.14 Chapter 18
    • 1.15 Chapter 21
    • 1.16 Chapter 22
    • 1.17 Chapter 23
    • 1.18 Chapter 24
    • 1.19 Chapter 27
    • 1.20 Chapter 29
    • 1.21 Chapter 31
    • 1.22 Chapter 34
    • 1.23 Chapter 35
    • 1.24 Chapter 36
    • 1.25 Chapter 39
    • 1.26 Chapter 40
    • 1.27 Chapter 41
    • 1.28 Chapter 42
  • 2 External links

Quotes

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Chapter 1

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  • It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain, he fell madly in love with him.
    • p. 7, Opening Lines
  • Actually, the pain in his liver had gone away, but Yossarian didn't say anything and the doctors never suspected.
    • p. 7
  • After he made up his mind to spend the rest of the war in the hospital, Yossarian wrote letters to everyone he knew saying that he was in the hospital but never mentioning why. One day he had a better idea. To everyone he knew he wrote that he was going on a very dangerous mission. "They asked for volunteers. It's very dangerous, but someone has to do it. I'll write you the instant I get back." And he had not written anyone since.
    • p. 8
  • Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means—decent folks—should be given more votes than drifters, whor*s, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk—people without means.
    [...]
    Dunbar sat up like a shot. "That's it," he cried excitedly. "There was something missing — and now I know what it is." He banged his fist down into his palm. "No patriotism," he declared.
    "You're right," Yossarian shouted back. "You're right, you're right, you're right. The hot dog, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mom's apple pie. That's what everyone's fighting for. But who's fighting for the decent folk? Who's fighting for more votes for the decent folk? There's no patriotism, that's what it is. And no matriotism, either."
    The warrant officer on Yossarian's left was unimpressed. "Who gives a sh*t?" he asked tiredly, and turned over on his side to go to sleep.
    • p. 9
  • The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likeable. In three days no one could stand him.
    • p. 10
  • "You murdered him," said Dunbar.
    "I heard you kill him," said Yossarian.
    "You killed him because he was a nigg*r," Dunbar said.
    "You fellas are crazy," the Texan cried. "They don't allow nigg*rs in here. They got a special place for nigg*rs."
    "The sergeant smuggled him in," Dunbar said.
    "The Communist sergeant," said Yossarian.
    "And you knew it."
    • p. 9
  • The colonel dwelt in a vortex of specialists who were still specializing in trying to determine what was troubling him. They hurled lights in his eyes to see if he could see, rammed needles into nerves to hear if he could feel. There was a urologist for his urine, a lymphologist for his lymph, an endocrinologist for his endocrines, a psychologist for his psyche, a dermatologist for his derma; there was a pathologist for his pathos, and cystologist for his cysts, and a bald and pedantic cetologist from the zoology department at Harvard who had been shanghaied ruthlessly into the Medical Corps by a faulty anode in an I.B.M. machine and spent his session with the dying colonel trying to discuss Moby Dick with him.
    The colonel had really been investigated. There was not an organ of his body that had not been drugged and derogated, dusted and dredged, fingered and photographed, removed, plundered, and replaced.
    • p. 15

Chapter 2

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  • Outside the hospital the war was still going on. Men went mad and were rewarded with medals. All over the world, boys on every side of the bomb line were laying down their lives for what they had been told was their country, and no one seemed to mind, least of all the boys who were laying down their young lives.
    • p. 16
  • "They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly.
    "No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
    "Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.
    "They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
    "And what difference does that make?"
    • p. 16
  • 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.
    "Who's they?" he wanted to know. "Who, specifically, do you think is trying to murder you?"
    "Every one of them," Yossarian told him.
    "Every one of whom?"
    "Every one of whom do you think?"
    "I haven't any idea."
    "Then how do you know they aren't?"
    "Because …" Clevinger sputtered, and turned speechless with frustration.
    • p. 17
  • Appleby was as good at shooting crap as he was at playing Ping-Pong, and he was as good at playing Ping-Pong as he was at everything else. Everything Appleby did, he did well. Appleby was a fair-haired boy from Iowa who believed in God, Motherhood, and the American Way of Life, without ever thinking about any of them, and everybody who knew him liked him.
    "I hate that son of a bitch," Yossarian growled.
    • p. 18
  • As far back as Yossarian could recall, he explained to Clevinger with a patient smile, somebody was always hatching a plot to kill him. There were people who cared for him and people who didn't, and those who didn't hated him and were out to get him. They hated him because he was Assyrian. But they couldn't touch him, he told Clevinger, because he had a sound mind in a pure body and was as strong as an ox. They couldn't touch him because he was Tarzan, Mandrake, Flash Gordon. He was Bill Shakespeare. He was Cain, Ulysses, the Flying Dutchman; he was Lot in Sodom, Deirdre of the Sorrows, Sweeney in the nightingales among trees. He was miracle ingredient Z-247. He was—
    "Crazy!" Clevinger interrupted, shrieking. "That's what you are! Crazy!"
    • p. 19
  • Gasping furiously for air, Clevinger enumerated Yossarian's symptoms: 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.
    • p. 20

Chapter 3

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  • "Why did you walk around with crab apples in your cheeks? Yossarian asked again. "That's what I asked."
    "Because they've got a better shape than horse chestnuts," Orr answered. "I just told you that."
    "Why," swore Yossarian at him approvingly, "you evil-eyed, mechanically-aptituded, disaffiliated son of a bitch, did you walk around with anything in your cheeks?"
    "I didn't," Orr said, "walk around with anything in my cheeks. I walked around with crab apples in my cheeks. When I couldn't get crab apples, I walked around with horse chestnuts. In my cheeks."
    • p.23
  • General Peckem was a general with whom neatness definitely counted. He was a spry, suave and very precise general who knew the circumference of the equator and always wrote "enhanced" when he meant "increased." He was a prick, and no one knew this better than General Dreedle, who was incensed by General Peckem's recent directive requiring all tents in the Mediterranean theater of operations to be pitched along parallel lines with entrances facing back proudly toward the Washington Monument. To General Dreedle…it seemed like a lot of crap. Furthermore, it was none of General Peckem's goddamn business how the tents in General Dreedle's wing were pitched. There then followed a hectic jurisdictional dispute between these overlords that was decided in General Dreedle's favor by ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, mail clerk at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters. Wintergreen determined the outcome by throwing all communications from General Peckem into the wastebasket. He found them too prolix. General Dreedle's views, expressed in less pretentious literary style, pleased ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen and were sped along by him in zealous observance of regulations.
    • p.26
  • Colonel Cargill, General Peckem's troubleshooter, was a forceful, ruddy man. Before the war he had been an alert, hard-hitting, aggressive marketing executive. He was a very bad marketing executive. Colonel Cargill was so awful a marketing executive that his services were much sought after by firms eager to establish losses for tax purposes. Throughout the civilized world, from Battery Park to Fulton Street, he was known as a dependable man for a fast tax write-off. His prices were high, for failure often did not come easily. He had to start at the top and work his way down, and with sympathetic friends in Washington, losing money was no simple matter. It took months of hard work and careful misplanning. A person misplaced, disorganized, miscalculated, overlooked everything and opened every loophole, and just when he thought he had it made, the government gave him a lake or a forest or an oilfield and spoiled everything. Even with such handicaps, Colonel Cargill could be relied on to run the most prosperous enterprise into the ground. He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
    • p. 27
  • Doc Daneeka was Yossarian's friend and would do just about nothing in his power to help him.
    • p. 28
  • Havermeyer was the best damned bombardier they had, but he flew straight and level all the way from the I.P to the target, and even far beyond the target until he saw the falling bombs strike ground and explode in a darting spurt of abrupt orange that flashed beneath the swirling pall of smoke and pulverized debris geysering up wildly in huge, rolling waves of gray and black. Havermeyer held mortal men rigid in six planes as steady and still as sitting ducks while he followed the bombs all the way down through the Plexiglas nose with deep interest and gave the German gunners below all the time they needed to set their sights and take their aim and pull their triggers or lanyards or switches or whatever the hell they did pull when they wanted to kill people they didn't know.
    • p. 29

Chapter 4

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  • All men reporting on sick call with temperatures above 102 were rushed to the hospital. All men reporting on sick call with temperatures below 102 had their gums and toes painted with gentian violet solution and were given a laxative to throw away into the bushes. All those reporting on sick call with temperatures of exactly 102 were asked to return in an hour to have their temperatures taken again.
    • p. 32
  • "Sure, that's what I mean" Doc Daneeka said. "A little grease is what makes this world go round. One hand washes the other. Know what I mean? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
    Yossarian knew what he meant.
    "That's not what I meant," Doc Daneeka said, as Yossarian began scratching his back. "I'm talking about co-operation. Favours. You do a favour for me, I'll do one for you. Get it?"
    "Do one for me," Yossarian requested.
    "Not a chance," Doc Daneeka answered.
    • p. 33
  • "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?"
    "Ho-ho beriberi."
    and
    "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?"
    • p. 34
  • "Do you know how long a year takes when it's going away?" Dunbar repeated to Clevinger. "This long." He snapped his fingers. "A second ago you were stepping into college with your lungs full of fresh air. Today you're an old man."
    "Old?" asked Clevinger with surprise. "What are you talking about?"
    "Old."
    "I'm not old."
    "You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age? A half minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you ever hoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summer vacation that lasted a hundred thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. How the hell else are you ever going to slow down?" Dunbar was almost angry when he finished.
    "Well, maybe it is true," Clevinger conceded unwillingly in a subdued tone. "Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it's to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?"
    "I do," Dunbar told him.
    "Why?" Clevinger asked.
    "What else is there?"
    • p. 39
  • "Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It really is. It's a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigg*r, kike, wop or spic."
    • p. 44, Chief White Halfoat
  • 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.
    • p. 46

Chapter 6

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  • Captain Flume spent as much of each evening as he could working in his darkroom and then lay down on his cot with his fingers crossed and a rabbit's foot around his neck and tried with all his might to stay awake. He lived in mortal fear of Chief White Halfoat. Captain Flume was obsessed with the idea that Chief White Halfoat would tiptoe up to his cot one night when he was sound asleep and slit his throat open for him from ear to ear. Captain Flume had obtained this idea from Chief White Halfoat himself, who did tiptoe up to his cot one night as he was dozing off, to hiss portentously that one night when he, Captain Flume, was sound asleep he, Chief White Halfoat, was going to slit his throat open for him from ear to ear. Captain Flume turned to ice, his eyes, flung open wide, staring directly up into Chief White Halfoat's, glinting drunkenly only inches away.
    "Why?" Captain Flume managed to croak finally.
    "Why not?" was Chief White Halfoat's answer.
    • p. 56
  • "Catch-22?" Yossarian was stunned. "What the hell has Catch-22 got to do with it?"
    "Catch-22," Doc Daneeka answered patiently, when Hungry Joe had flown Yossarian back to Pianosa, "says you've always got to do what our 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 Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters would really jump on you."
    • p. 58

Chapter 7

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  • McWatt was the craziest combat man of them all probably, because he was perfectly sane and still did not mind the war.
    • p. 60

Chapter 8

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  • To die or not to die, that was the question, and Clevinger grew limp trying to answer it. 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 circ*mstance, and Yossarian was willing to be the victim of anything but circ*mstance. But that was war. Just about all he could find in its favor was that it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.
    • p. 68
  • "I want someone to tell me", Lieutenant Scheisskopf beseeched to them all prayerfully."If any of it is my fault, I want to be told."
    "He wants someone to tell him," Clevinger said.
    "He wants everyone to keep still, idiot," Yossarian answered.
    "Didn't you hear him?" Clevinger argued.
    "I heard him," Yossarian replied."I heard him say very loudly and very distinctly that he wants every one of us to keep our mouths shut if we know what's good for us."
    "I won't punish you", Lieutenant Scheisskopf swore.
    "He says he won't punish me", said Clevinger.
    "He'll castrate you," said Yossarian.
    "I swear I won't punish you," said Lieutenant Scheisskopf."I'll be grateful to the man who tells me the truth."
    "He'll hate you", said Yossarian."To his dying day he'll hate you."
    • p. 69
  • 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.
    • p. 71
  • The best squadron in each wing won a yellow pennant on a pole that was utterly worthless. The best squadron on the base won a red pennant on a longer pole that was worth even less, since the pole was heavier and was that much more of a nuisance to lug around all week until some other squadron won it the following Sunday. 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.
    • p. 72
  • "Last night in the latrine. Didn't you whisper that we couldn't punish you to that other dirty son of a bitch we don't like? What's his name?"
    "Yossarian, sir," Lieutenant Scheisskopf said.
    "Yes, Yossarian. That's right. Yossarian. Yossarian? Is that his name? Yossarian? What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian?"
    Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his finger tips. "It's Yossarian's name, sir," he explained.
    "Yes, I suppose it is. Didn't you whisper to Yossarian that we couldn't punish you?"
    "Oh, no, sir. I whispered to him that you couldn't find me guilty —"
    "I may be stupid," interrupted the colonel, "but the distinction escapes me. I guess I'm pretty stupid, because the distinction escapes me."
    • p. 78
  • "Justice?" The Colonel was astounded. "What is justice?"
    "Justice, sir — "
    "That's not what justice is," the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. "That's what Karl Marx is. 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."
    • p. 80
  • "You haven't got a chance, kid," he told him glumly. "They hate Jews."
    "But I'm not Jewish," answered Clevinger.
    "It will make no difference," Yossarian promised, and Yossarian was right. "They're after everybody."
    • p. 81

Chapter 9

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  • Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. 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. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.
    • p. 83
    • Based on quote from Shakespeare, Twelfth Night Act II, scene v: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”
  • Major Major's father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn't earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major's father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. 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 invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the country. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise.
    • p. 83
  • "English history!" roared the silver-maned senior Senator from his state indignantly. "What's the matter with American history? American history is as good as any history in the world!"
    • p. 85

Chapter 10

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  • Clevinger was dead. That was the basic flaw in his philosophy.
    • p. 104
  • "Do you really want some more codeine?" Dr. Stubbs asked.
    "It's for my friend Yossarian. He's sure he's going to be killed."
    "Yossarian? Who the hell is Yossarian? What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian, anyway? Isn't he the one who got drunk and started that fight with Colonel Korn at the officer's club the other night?"
    "That's right. He's Assyrian."
    "That crazy bastard."
    "He's not so crazy," Dunbar said. "He swears he's not going to fly to Bologna."
    "That's just what I mean," Dr. Stubbs answered. "That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left."
    • p. 110

Chapter 12

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  • Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.
    • p. 123
  • "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."
    • p. 124
  • 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."
    • p. 124

Chapter 15

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  • Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the inoffensive joint squadron operations officers, were both mild, soft-spoken men of less than middle height who enjoyed flying combat missions and begged nothing more of life and Colonel Cathcart than the opportunity to continue flying them. They had flown hundreds of combat missions and wanted to fly hundreds more. They assigned themselves to every one. Nothing so wonderful as war had ever happened to them before; and they were afraid it might never happen to them again.
    • p. 145

Chapter 17

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  • There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital, and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily. People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. 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.
    • p. 165
  • "There just doesn't seem to be any logic to this system of rewards and punishment. Look what happened to me. If I had gotten syphilis or a dose of clap for my five minutes of passion on the beach instead of this damned mosquito bite, I could see some justice. But malaria? Malaria? Who can explain malaria as a consequence of fornication? [...]
    Just for once I'd like to see all these things sort of straightened out, with each person getting exactly what he deserves. It might give me some confidence in this universe."
    • p. 170
  • There were too many dangers for Yossarian to keep track of. There was Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, for example, and they were all out to kill him. There was Lieutenant Scheisskopf with his fanaticism for parades and there was the bloated colonel with his big fat mustache and his fanaticism for retribution, and they wanted to kill him, too. There was Appleby, Havermeyer, Black and Korn. There was Nurse Cramer and Nurse Duckett, who he was almost certain wanted him dead, and there was the Texan and the C.I.D. man, about whom he had no doubt. There were bartenders, bricklayers and bus conductors all over the world who wanted him dead, landlords and tenants, traitors and patriots, lynchers, leeches and lackeys, and they were all out to bump him off. [...]
    There were lymph glands that might do him in. There were kidneys, nerve sheaths and corpuscles. There were tumors of the brain. There was Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There were fertile red meadows of epithelial tissue to catch and coddle a cancer cell. There were diseases of the skin, diseases of the heart, blood and arteries. There were diseases of the head, diseases of the neck, diseases of the chest, diseases of the intestines, diseases of the crotch. There even were diseases of the feet. There were billions of conscientious body cells oxidating away day and night like dumb animals at their complicated job of keeping him alive and healthy, and every one was a potential traitor and foe.
    • p. 172

Chapter 18

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  • "I'm asking you to save my life."
    "It's not my business to save lives," Doc Daneeka retorted sullenly.
    "What is your business?"
    "I don't know what my business is. All they ever told me was to uphold the ethics of my profession and never give testimony against another physician."
    • p. 174
  • "Be thankful you're healthy."
    "Be bitter you're not going to stay that way"
    "Be glad you're even alive."
    "Be furious you're going to die."
    • p. 178
  • "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?"
    • p. 179
  • But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.
    • p. 180
  • Of course you're dying. We're all dying. Where the devil else do you think you're heading?
    • p. 182

Chapter 21

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  • A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins. He tried to make himself grow calm. Yossarian was not a common name; perhaps there were not really three Yossarians but only two Yossarians, or maybe even only one Yossarian — but that really made no difference! The colonel was still in grave peril. Intuition warned him that he was drawing close to some immense and inscrutable cosmic climax, and his broad, meaty, towering frame tingled from head to toe at the thought that Yossarian, whoever he would turn out to be, was destined to serve as his nemesis.
    Colonel Cathcart was not superstitious, but he did believe in omens, and he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away. He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand, amplifying it sharply with a series of coded punctuation marks and underlining the whole message twice, so that it read:
Yossarian!!! (?)!
The colonel sat back when he had finished and was extremely pleased with himself for the prompt action he had just taken to meet this sinister crisis. Yossarian — the very sight of the name made him shudder. There were so many esses in it. It just had to be subversive. It was like the word subversive itself. It was like seditious and insidious too, and like socialist, suspicious, fascist and Communist.
    • p. 210
  • All Colonel Cathcart knew about his house in the hills was that he had such a house and hated it. He was never so bored as when spending there the two or three days every other week necessary to sustain the illusion that his damp and drafty stone farmhouse in the hills was a golden palace of carnal delights. Officers’ clubs everywhere pulsated with blurred but knowing accounts of lavish, hushed-up drinking and sex orgies there and of secret, intimate nights of ecstasy with the most beautiful, the most tantalizing, the most readily aroused and most easily satisfied Italian courtesans, film actresses, models and countesses. No such private nights of ecstasy or hushed-up drinking and sex orgies ever occurred. They might have occurred if either General Dreedle or General Peckem had once evinced an interest in taking part in orgies with him, but neither ever did, and the colonel was certainly not going to waste his time and energy making love to beautiful women unless there was something in it for him.
    • p. 211
  • "I run a fighting outfit," he told them sternly, when the room had grown absolutely quiet and the men on the benches were all cowering sheepishly, "and there'll be no more moaning in this group as long as I'm in command. Is that clear?"
    It was clear to everybody but Major Danby, who was still concentrating on his wrist watch and counting down the seconds aloud.
    "… four … three … two … one … time!" called out Major Danby, and raised his eyes triumphantly to discover that no one had been listening to him and that he would have to begin all over again. "Ooooh," he moaned in frustration.
    "What was that?" roared General Dreedle incredulously, and whirled around in a murderous rage upon Major Danby, who staggered back in terrified confusion and began to quail and perspire. "Who is this man?"
    "M-major Danby, sir," Colonel Cathcart stammered. "My group operations officer."
    "Take him out and shoot him," ordered General Dreedle.
    • p. 221

Chapter 22

[edit]

  • 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.
    • p. 231
  • Milo turned to him with a faint glimmer of mischief. "I have a sure-fire plan of cheating the federal government out of six thousand dollars. We can make three thousand dollars apiece without any risk to either of us. Are you interested?"
    "No."
    Milo looked at Yossarian with profound emotion. "That's what I like about you," he exclaimed. "You're honest! You're the only one I know that I can really trust."
    • p. 233
  • Milo was not only the Vice-Shah or Oran, as it turned out, but also the Caliph of Baghdad, the Imam of Damascus, and the Sheik of Araby. Milo was the corn god, the rain god and the rice god in backward regions where such crude gods were still worshipped by ignorant and superstitious people, and deep inside the jungles of Africa, he intimated with becoming modesty, large graven images of his mustached face could be found overlooking primitive stone altars red with human blood. Everywhere they touched he was acclaimed with honor, and it was one triumphal ovation after another for him in city after city.
    • p. 237

Chapter 23

[edit]

  • "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."
    "Anything worth living for," said Nately, "is worth dying for."
    "And everything worth dying for," answered the sacrilegious old man, "is certainly worth living for."
    • p. 247
  • "They are going to kill you if you don't watch out, and I can see now that you are not going to watch out. Why don't you use some sense and try to be more like me? You might live to be a hundred and seven, too."
    "Because it's better to die on one's feet than live on one's knees," Nately retorted with triumphant and lofty conviction. "I guess you've heard that saying before."
    "Yes, I certainly have," mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. "But I'm afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one's feet than die on one's knees. That is the way the saying goes."
    "Are you sure?" Nately asked with sober confusion. "It seems to make more sense my way."
    "No, it makes more sense my way. Ask your friends."
    • p. 247

Chapter 24

[edit]

  • 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. He had contracted with the Germans to bomb Milo's own camp.… Milo was all washed up until he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made.
    • p. 259
  • "In a democracy, the government is the people," Milo explained. "We're people, aren't we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."
    • p. 259

Chapter 27

[edit]

  • "I suppose you just don't care if you lose your leg, do you?"
    "It's my leg."
    "It certainly is not your leg!" Nurse Cramer retorted. "That leg belongs to the U.S. government. It's no different than a gear or a bedpan. The Army has invested a lot of money to make you an airplane pilot, and you've no right to disobey the doctor's orders."
    • p. 291
  • "Hasn't it ever occurred to you that in your promiscuous pursuit of women you are merely trying to assuage your subconscious fears of sexual impotence?"
    "Yes, sir, it has."
    "Then why do you do it?"
    "To assuage my fears of sexual impotence."
    • p. 298
  • "You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!"
    • p. 299
  • "You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate."
    "Consciously, sir, consciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help, "I hate them consciously."
    "You're antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you're a manic-depressive!" […]
    "Then you admit you're crazy, do you?"
    • p. 303

Chapter 29

[edit]

  • "Well, don't let that trouble you," General Peckem continued with a careless flick of his wrist. "Just pass on the work I assign you to somebody else and trust to luck. We call that delegation and responsibility. Somewhere down near the lowest level of this coordinated organization I run are people who get the work done when it reaches them, and everything manages to run along smoothly without too much effort on my part. I suppose that's because I am a good executive. Nothing we do in this large department of ours is really very important, and there's never any rush. On the other hand, it is important that we let people know we do a great deal of it. Let me know if you find yourself shorthanded. I've already put in a requisition for two majors, four captains and sixteen lieutenants to give you a hand. While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it. Don't you agree?"
    • p. 320

Chapter 31

[edit]

  • "You're dead, sir," one of his two enlisted men explained.
    Doc Daneeka jerked his head up quickly with resentful distrust. "What's that?"
    "You're dead, sir," repeated the other. That's probably the reason you always feel so cold."
    "That's right, sir. You've probably been dead all this time and we just didn't detect it."
    • p. 341
  • 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.
    • p. 344

Chapter 34

[edit]

  • 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.
    • p. 363
  • "It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean when they disappear somebody?"
    • p. 367

Chapter 35

[edit]

  • He proved as good as his word when a rawboned major from Minnesota curled his lip in rebellious disavowal and demanded his share of the syndicate Milo kept saying everybody owned. Milo met the challenge by writing the words "A Share" on the nearest scrap of paper and handing it away with a virtuous disdain that won the envy and admiration of almost everyone who knew him.
    • p. 369

Chapter 36

[edit]

  • 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 yearn for you tragically. A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army."
    • p. 381
    • In older and overseas versions, the character's original name was Robert Oliver "R.O." Shipman, which was later changed to Albert Taylor Tappman.

Chapter 39

[edit]

  • 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.
    • p. 405
  • Catch-22,” the old woman repeated, rocking her head up and down. “Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
    “What the hell are you talking about?” Yossarian shouted at her in bewildered, furious protest. “How did you know it was Catch-22? Who the hell told you it was Catch-22?”
    “The soldiers with the hard white hats and clubs. The girls were crying. ‘Did we do anything wrong?’ they said. The men said no and pushed them away out the door with the ends of their clubs. ‘Then why are you chasing us out?’ the girls said. ‘Catch-22,’ the men said. ‘What right do you have?’ the girls said. ‘Catch-22,’ the men said. All they kept saying was ‘Catch-22, Catch-22.’ What does it mean, Catch-22? What is Catch-22?”
    “Didn’t they show it to you?” Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. “Didn’t you even make them read it?”
    “They don’t have to show us Catch-22,” the old woman answered. “The law says they don’t have to.”
    “What law says they don’t have to?”
    “Catch-22.”
    • p. 407

Chapter 40

[edit]

  • "The men were perfectly content to fly as many missions as we asked them as long as they thought they had no alternative. Now you've given them hope, and they're unhappy. So the blame is all yours."
    • p. 421

Chapter 41

[edit]

  • "I'm cold," Snowden said again in a frail, childlike voice. "I'm cold."
    "There, there," Yossarian said, because he did not know what else to say. "There, there."
    • p. 437
  • 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.
    • p. 440

Chapter 42

[edit]

  • "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."
    • p. 445
  • "From now on I'm thinking only of me."
    Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: "But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way."
    "Then," said Yossarian, "I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?"
    • p. 446
  • The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.
    • p. 453. Last lines.

External links

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  • Catch-22 - Wikiquote (9) Encyclopedic article on Catch-22 on Wikipedia
  • Catch-22 - Wikiquote (10) Media related to Catch-22 on Wikimedia Commons
  • Catch-22 quotes analyzed; study guide with themes, character analyses, literary devices, teacher resources

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