Search for books, people and lists
Read This Twice
HomePeopleBooksLibrariesSign In
Catch-22 book cover
Catch-22 › Quotes

Catch-22 Quotes

He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.
...[A]nything worth dying for ... is certainly worth living for.
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?.
The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.
It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.
[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.
He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.
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.
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.
Why are they going to disappear him?' I don't know.' It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar.
The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.
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.
The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him.
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. 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.
Be glad you're even alive.' Be furious you're going to die.
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?.
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 every human tragedy.
He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
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.
Where were you born?" "On a battlefield," [Yossarian] answered. "No, no. In what state were you born?" "In a state of innocence.
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.
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.
He was never without misery, and never without hope.
There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to.
He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.
Let's take a drive into the middle of nowhere with a packet of Marlboro lights and talk about our lives.
Prostitution gives her an opportunity to meet people. It provides fresh air and wholesome exercise, and it keeps her out of trouble.
Surely there can't be so many countries worth dying for.' Anything worth living for,' said Nately, 'is worth dying for.' And anything worth dying for,' answered the sacrilegious old man, 'is certainly worth living for.
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.
-You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!.
Catch-22 did not exist, he was positive of that, but it made no difference. What did matter was that everyone thought it existed, and that was much worse, for there was no object or text to ridicule or refute, to accuse, criticize, attack, amend, hate, revile, spit at, rip to shreds, trample upon or burn up.
What would they do to me," he asked in confidential tones, "if I refused to fly them?" We'd probably shoot you," ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied. We?" Yossarian cried in surprise. "What do you mean, we? Since when are you on their side?" If you're going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?" ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen retorted.
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. Clevinger really thought he was right, but Yossarian had proof, because strangers he didn't know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up into the air to drop bombs on them, and it wasn't funny at all.
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. 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.
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.
I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life.
Men," he began his address to the officers, measuring his pauses carefully. "You're American officers. The officers of no other army in the world can make that statement. Think about it.
She was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she smiled.
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.
Clevinger had a mind, and Lieutenant Scheisskoph had noticed that people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times.
Actually there were many officers' clubs that Yossarian had not helped build, but he was proudest of the one on Pianosa. It was a sturdy and complex monument to his powers of determination. Yossarian never went there to help until it was finished; then he went there often, so pleased was he with the large , fine, rambling shingled building. It was a truly splendid building, and Yossarian throbbed with a mighty sense of accomplishment each time he gazed at it and reflected that none of the work that had gone into it was his.
When people disagreed with him he urged them to be objective.
So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven?.
I am miracle ingredient Z-247. I'm immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman.
Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity trust upon them.
Who the hell knows.
While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it.
What the hell are you getting so upset about?' he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrive amusement. 'I thought you didn't believe in God.' I don't,' she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. '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 to be.' Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. 'Let's have a little more religious freedom between us,' he proposed obligingly. 'You don't believe in the God you want to, and I won't believe in the God I want to . Is that a deal?.
You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it.
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.
where are the snowdens of yesteryear?.
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.
Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective.
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.
What else is there?.
Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try to break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all.
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.
Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. 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. I'm cold,' Snowden said. 'I'm cold.
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.
He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret.
In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure.
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.
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.
All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars.
You wouldn’t be normal if you were never afraid. Even the bravest men experience fear. One of the biggest jobs we all face in combat is to overcome fear.
Yossarian decided to change the subject. "Now you're changing the subject." he pointed out diplomatically. "I'll bet I can name two things to be miserable about for every one you can name to be thankful for.
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.
When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering.