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Authors: Catch-22 Quotes, Catch-22 Important Quotes, Quotations, Sayings from the Joseph Heller novel
"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?"
Yossarian explains to his friend Clevinger why he is not crazy for thinking people are trying to kill him, Chapter 2: Clevinger.
... 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.
Clevinger calls Yossarian crazy and lists his symptoms, Chapter 2: Clevinger.
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.
Yossarian's only aim is to come down alive from his B-25 flying missions. Chapter 3: Havermeyer.
You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age.
Dunbar explains to Clevinger his obsession with growing old and slowing time. Chapter 4: Doc Daneeka.
Fortunately, just when things were blackest, the war broke out.
With the bills piling up and business slow, Doc Daneeka sees war as a godsend. Chapter 5: 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.
Doc Daneeka explains why he cannot ground Yossarian or Orr due to insanity, Chapter 5: Chief White Halfoat.
"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."
Doc Daneeka reveals another clause of Catch-22 to Yossarian, Chapter 6: Hungry Joe.
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. Just about all he could find in its favor was that it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.
Chapter 8: Lieutenant Scheisskopf.
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: Lieutenant Scheisskopf.
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.
The bloated colonel to Clevinger. Chapter 8: Lieutenant Scheisskopf.
Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.
Of Major Major, with whom it had been all three. Chapter 9: Major Major Major Major.
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.
Of Major Major. Chapter 9: Major Major Major Major.
Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he's in his office.
Sergeant Towser to Appleby. Chapter 10: Wintergreen.
Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.
Yossarian, Chapter 12: Bologna.
"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."
Yossarian to Clevinger. Chapter 12: Bologna.
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: Bologna.
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.
Colonel Korn to Colonel Cathcart, on decorating Yossarian and promoting him to captain to cover up a bombing mission that went tragically wrong. Chapter 13: Major - de Coverly.
Yossarian's heart sank. Something was terribly wrong if everything was all right and they had no excuse for turning back.
The dreaded mission to Bologna has arrived for Yossarian, Chapter 14: Kid Sampson.
Climb, you bastard! Climb, climb, climb, climb!
Yossarian screams at his pilot McWatt, Chapter 15: Piltchard & Wren.
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. 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.
Yossarian is determined to remain in hospital rather than fly the increased missions, Chapter 17: The Soldier in White.
"Don't tell me God works in mysterious ways," Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. "There's nothing so 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?"
"Pain?" Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife pounced upon the word victoriously. "Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers."
"And who created the dangers?" Yossarian demanded ... "Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us?"
Chapter 18: The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice.
Colonel Cathcart was indefatigable that way, an industrious, intense, dedicated military tactician who calculated day and night in the service of himself.
Chapter 19: Colonel Cathcart.
He 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.
The chaplain is ashamed over the failure of his discussion with Colonel Cathcard about the sixty missions. Chapter 20: Corporal Whitcomb.
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.
Milo, Chapter 22: Milo the Mayor.
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 counties can't all be worth dying for.
Old man to Nately, Chapter 23: Nately's Old Man.
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.
On Milo's double dealing profits from getting the Germans to bomb his own outfit, Chapter 24: Milo.
I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.
Milo, Chapter 24: Milo.
You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!
Major Sanderson diagnoses Yossarian as insane, Chapter 27: Nurse Duckett.
That's the way things go when you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority.
Colonel Cathcart on the latest unnecessary mission to bomb a small undefended village to block the Germans, Chapter 29: Peckem.
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.
Colonel Cathcart sends Doc Daneeka's wife one of Whitcomb's generitic condolence letters, Chapter 31: Mrs. Daneeka.
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: Thanksgiving.
It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean to disappear somebody?
Yossarian is told by Nurse Duckett that officials are planing to "disappear" Dunbar, Chapter 34: Thanksgiving.
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. R. O. Shipman, Chaplain, U.S. Army."
Interrogators accuse chaplain of signing Washington Irving's name to official documents and produce letter written to chaplain's wife as evidence, Chapter 36: The Cellar.
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.
Yossarian goes AWOL and flies to Rome, Chapter 39: The Eternal City.
We've got your pal, buddy. We've got your pal.
Mysterious man in bathrobe to Yossarian, Chapter 41: Snowden.
Here was God's plenty, all right, 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... 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.
Yossarian is haunted by memories of the fatally injured Snowden whose insides spill out onto Yossarian's plane as Yossarian tries to save the young tail-gunner but is unable to do so, Chapter 41: Snowden.
Yossarian, they can prepare as many offical reports as they want and choose whichever ones they need on any given occasion. Didn't you know that?
Major Danby, Chapter 42 Yossarian.
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.
Yossarian to Major Danby, Chapter 42: Yossarian.
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.
Chaplain, Chapter 42: Yossarian.
Catch-22 is a 1961 satirical, historical novel about American servicemen during World War II by American author Joseph Heller. Heller was born on May 1, 1923, and died December 12, 1999.

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