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Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:00 pm
by admin
by Joseph Heller
Copyright © 1955, 1961 by Joseph Heller
Copyright renewed © 1989 by Joseph Heller
Preface to the special edition of Catch-22 copyright © 1994 by Joseph Heller




To Candida Donadio, literary agent, and Robert Gottlieb, editor. Colleagues.


This island of Pianosa lies in the Mediterranean Sea eight miles south of Elba. It is very small and obviously could not accommodate all of the actions described. Like the setting of this novel, the characters, too, are fictitious.

Table of Contents:

• Preface to the Special Edition of Catch-22
• Chapter 1. The Texan
• Chapter 2. Clevinger
• Chapter 3. Havermeyer
• Chapter 4. Doc Daneeka
• Chapter 5. Chief White Halfoat
• Chapter 6. Hungry Joe
• Chapter 7. McWatt
• Chapter 8. Lieutenant Scheisskopf
• Chapter 9. Major Major Major Major
• Chapter 10. Wintergreen
• Chapter 11. Captain Black
• Chapter 12. Bologna
• Chapter 13. Major -- de Coverley
• Chapter 14. Kid Sampson
• Chapter 15. Piltchard & Wren
• Chapter 16: Luciana
• Chapter 17: The Soldier in White
• Chapter 18: The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice
• Chapter 19. Colonel Cathcart
• Chapter 20. Corporal Whitcomb
• Chapter 21. General Dreedle
• Chapter 22. Milo the Mayor
• Chapter 23. Nately's Old Man
• Chapter 24. Milo
• Chapter 25. The Chaplain
• Chapter 26. Aarfy
• Chapter 27. Nurse Duckett
• Chapter 28. Dobbs
• Chapter 29. Peckem
• Chapter 30. Dunbar
• Chapter 31. Mrs. Daneeka
• Chapter 32. Yo-Yo's Roomies
• Chapter 33. Nately's Whore
• Chapter 34. Thanksgiving
• Chapter 35. Milo the Militant
• Chapter 36. The Cellar
• Chapter 37. General Scheisskopf
• Chapter 38. Kid Sister
• Chapter 39. The Eternal City
• Chapter 40. Catch-22
• Chapter 41. Snowden
• Chapter 42. Yossarian

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:01 pm
by admin
Preface to the special edition of CATCH-22

In 1961, The New York Times was a newspaper with eight columns. And
on November 11 of that year, one day after the official publication date
of Catch-22, the page with the book review carried an unusual advertisement
that ran from top to bottom and was five columns wide. To
the eye the effect was stupendous. The book review that day, of a work
by somebody else, was squeezed aside to the fold of the page, as were
the crossword puzzle and all else. The ad had this caption: WHAT'S
THE CATCH? And displayed at the top in silhouette was the comic
cartoon of a uniformed figure in flight, glancing off to the side at some
unspecified danger with an expression of panic.
It was an announcement ad for Catch-22. Interwoven with the text
were mentions of praise from twenty-one individuals and groups of
some public standing, most connected to literature and the publishing
world, who had received the novel before publication and had already
reviewed it or commented about it favorably.
Within days after publication, there was a review in The Nation by
Nelson Algren (a client of my own literary agent, who had urged him
to read it), who wrote of Catch-22 that it "was the best novel to come
out of anywhere in years." And there was a review by Studs Terkel in a
Chicago daily newspaper that recommended it about as highly.
So much attention to the work at publication was in large part the
result of the industrious zeal and appreciation of my literary agent,
Candida Donadio, and my editor, Robert Gottlieb, and I embrace the
opportunity afforded now to dedicate this new edition to both of them,
as colleagues and allies with talents that were of immeasurable value.
The work was not reviewed in the Times that day. However, it was
reviewed in the Herald Tribune by Maurice Dolbier, and Mr. Dolbier
said of it: "A wild, moving, shocking, hilarious, raging, exhilarating,
giant roller-coaster of a book."
That the reviewer for the Herald Tribune came to review at all this war
novel by someone unknown was almost entirely the product of coincidence.
S.J. Perelman, much better known and the subject of an interview
by Mr. Dolbier, was publishing his own book at just about that time. His
publisher was Simon & Schuster, mine too, and the editor in charge of
his work there was also the same, Bob Gottlieb. In answer to a question
put to him by Dolbier about his own reading, Mr. Perelman replied that
he was very much engrossed in a novel pressed upon him by his editor, a
novel called Catch-22. Returning to his office, Mr. Dolbier later confessed
to me, he found the book already in the pile with others he had decided
he would not have time to study as prospects to write about. Had it not
been for Gottlieb, there would have been no Perelman, and had it not
been for Perelman, there would have been no review by Dolbier.
And had it not been for Dolbier, there might not have been the
Times. Two weeks afterward, and probably only because of Mr.
Dolbier, the book was described with approbation in the daily Times by
the reviewer Orville Prescott, who predicted it would not be forgotten
by those who could take it and called it: "A dazzling performance that
. will outrage nearly as many readers as it delights."
The rest, one might say is history, but it's a history easily misconstrued.
The novel won no prizes and was not on any bestseller list.,
And, as Mr. Prescott foresaw, for just about every good report, there
seemed to appear one that was negative. Looking back at this novel
after twenty-five years, John Aldridge, to my mind the most perceptive
and persistent, commentator on American literature over the decades,
lauded Robert Brustein for his superbly intelligent review in The New
Republic, which contained "essential arguments that much of later criticism
has done little to improve on," and Mr. Aldridge recognized that
many in the early audience of Catch-22 "liked the book for just the reasons
that caused others to hate it."
The disparagements were frequently venomous. In the Sunday
Times, in a notice in back so slender that the only people seeing it were
those awaiting it, the reviewer (a novelist who also by chance was a
client of my own agent, Candida) decided that the "novel gasps for
want of craft and sensibility," "is repetitious and monotonous," "fails,"
"is an emotional hodgepodge," and was no novel; and in the esteemed
The New .Yorker, the reviewer, a staff writer who normally writes about
jazz, compared the book unfavorably with a novel of similar setting by
Mitchell Goodman and decided that Catch-22 "doesn't even seem to
have been written; instead, it gives the impression of having been
shouted onto paper," "what remains is a debris of sour jokes," and that
in the end Heller "wallows in his own laughter and finally drowns in
it." (I am tempted now to drown in laughter as I set this down.)
I do not recall that the novel was included in the several hundred
books in the Christmas roundup of recommended reading of the Times
that year or in the several hundred others picked out in the spring for
summer reading.
But in late summer of 1962, Raymond Walters, on the bestseller
page of the Sunday Times, which then carried regularly the column "In
and Out of Books," reported that the underground book New Yorkers
seemed to be talking about most was Catch-22. (The novel probably was
more heavily advertised than any other that year, but it was still underground.)
Not much later, Newsweek carried a story to the same effect in
a space more than a page wide. And late that same summer, I was invited
to my first television interview. The program was the 10day show,
then a variety show as much as anything else. The interim host was
John Chancellor. Mr. Chancellor had recently returned from his newsman's
post in the Kremlin, and he had agreed to accept the position on
condition that he interview only those people he himself chose to.
After the show, in a bar close by the studio where I found myself
drinking martinis at an earlier hour than ever in my life, he handed me
a packet of stickers he'd had printed privately. They read: YOSSARIAN
LIVES. And he confided he'd been pasting these stickers secretly
on the walls of the corridors and in the executive rest rooms of the
NBC building.
Then came September and the paperback edition and with it, finally,
an expansion in popular appeal that seemed to take the publishers, Dell,
by surprise, despite elaborate promotion and distribution strategies. It
seemed for a while that the people there could not fully bring themselves
to believe the sales figures and that they would never catch up.
Paperback publishers print in the hundreds of thousands. For this,
after an initial release of 300,000 copies, they went back to press five
more times between September and the end of the year, twice each in
October and December, and by the end of 1963, there were eleven
printings. In England, under the auspices of the enterprising young
editor there Tom Maschler, it was that way from the start. Bestseller
lists there were new and rudimentary then, but Catch-22 was quickly at
the head of them.
For me the history of Catch-22 begins back in 1953, when I started
writing it. In 1953, I was employed as a copywriter at a small advertising
agency in New York, after two years as an instructor in English composition
at Pennsylvania State University, which then was a college. Early
on, in anxious need of an approving opinion, I sent the opening chapter
off to the literary agents I had managed to obtain after publishing a few
short stories in magazines, in Esquire and The Atlantic. The agents were
not impressed, but a young assistant there, Ms. Candida Donadio, was,
and she secured permission to submit that chapter to a few publications
that regularly published excerpts from "novels in progress."
In 1955 the chapter appeared in a paperback quarterly New World
Writing #7 (an anthology that also contained, under a pseudonym, an
extract from another novel in progress-Jack Kerouac's On the Road).
There came complimentary letters of interest from a few editors at
established book publishers, and I was encouraged to continue with a
work I now saw realistically was going to take me a good many years
longer than I at first had guessed.
In 1957, when I had about 270 pages in typescript, I was employed
at Time magazine, writing advertising-sales presentations by day when
not furtively putting thoughts down on paper for my work on the novel
at home that evening. And Candida Donadio was establishing herself
as a preeminent agent in her own right, with a list of American authors
as clients as impressive as any. We agreed it made sense to submit the
partial manuscript to some publishers, mainly to obtain a practical idea
of the potential for publication of this novel we both thought so much
of. She was drawn toward a new young editor she knew of at Simon &
Schuster, one she thought might prove more receptive to innovation
than most. His name was Robert Gottlieb, and she was right.
While Gottlieb busied himself with those pages, I, with a four-week
summer vacation from bountiful Time magazine, began rewriting
them. Gottlieb and I met for lunch, mainly for him to gauge my temperament
and ascertain how amenable I would be as an author to work
with. After I listened to him allude with tact to certain broad suggestions
he thought he eventually might be compelled to make, I handed
him my new pages with the boastful response that I believed I had
already taken care of nearly all of them.
He surprised me with concern that I might take exception to working
with someone so young-he was twenty-six, I think, and I was
thirty-four. I was more greatly surprised to learn from him later that
both he and his closest colleague at Simon & Schuster, Nina Bourne,
were intimidated at first by an air of suspicion I projected that I did not
.know I even possessed. I have not been suspicious of him since, and I
doubt very much that Gottlieb, who went on to become the head of
Alfred A. Knopf and then editor of The New Yorker magazine, has ever
again been intimidated by anybody.
And what I still remember most agreeably about him is that he did
not ask for an outline or once seek for even a hint of where this one-third
of a novel he'd seen was going to go. The contract I received
called for an advance of fifteen hundred dollars, half on signing, which
I did not need, and the remainder on completion and acceptance.
Probably, I was his first novelist, but not his first to be published;
other authors with completed manuscripts came to him in the three
more years I needed to finish mine. Probably, I was Candida's earliest
client too. Both were as delighted as I was with the eventual success of
Catch-22, and the three of us have been reveling in our recollections of
the experience ever since.
On February 28, 1962, the journalist Richard Starnes published a
column of unrestrained praise in his newspaper, The New York World-
Telegram, that opened with these words:
"Yossarian will, I think, live a very long time."
His tribute was unexpected, because Mr. Starnes was a newspaperman
in the hard-boiled mode whose customary beat was local politics,
and the World-Telegram was widely regarded as generally conservative.
To this day, I am grateful to Mr. Starnes for his unqualified and
unsolicited approval and bless him for the accuracy of his prediction.
Yossarian has indeed lived a long time. The "World-'Telegram has passed
on. Many of the people mentioned in that first advertisement have
died, and most of the rest of us are on the way.
But Yossarian is alive when the novel ends. Because of the motion
picture, even close readers of the novel have a final, lasting image of
him at sea, paddling toward freedom in a yellow inflated lifeboat. In
the book he doesn't get that far; but he is not captured and he isn't
dead. At the end of the successor volume I've just completed, Closing
Time (that fleeing cartoon figure is again on the book jacket, but wearing
a businessman's chapeau and moving with a cane), he is again still
alive, more than forty years older but definitely still there. "Everyone
has got to go," his physician friend in that novel reminds him with
emphasis. "Everyone!" But should I ever write another sequel, he
would still be around at the end.
Sooner or later, I must concede, Yossarian, now seventy, will have to
pass away too. But it won't be by my hand.
East Hampton, New York

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:01 pm
by admin
1. The Texan

It was love at first sight.
The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with
Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just
short of being jaundice. The doctors were puzzled by the fact that it
wasn't quite jaundice. If it became jaundice they could treat it. If it
didn't become jaundice and went away they could discharge him. But
this just being short of jaundice all the time confused them.
Each morning they came around, three brisk and serious men with
efficient mouths and inefficient eyes, accompanied by brisk and serious
Nurse Duckett, one of the ward nurses who didn't like Yossarian. They
read the chart at the foot of the bed and asked impatiently about the
pain. They seemed irritated when he told them it was exactly the same.
"Still no movement?" the full colonel demanded.
The doctors exchanged a look when he shook his head.
"Give him another pill."
Nurse Duckett made a note to give Yossarian another pill, and the ....
four of them moved along to the next bed. None of the nurses liked
Yossarian. Actually, the pain in his liver had gone away, but Yossarian
didn't say anything and the doctors never suspected. They just suspected
that he had been moving his bowels and not telling anyone.
Yossarian had everything he wanted in the hospital. The food wasn't
too bad, and his meals were brought to him in bed. There were extra
rations of fresh meat, and during the hot part of the afternoon he and
the others were served chilled fruit juice or chilled chocolate milk.
Apart from the doctors and the nurses, no one ever disturbed him. For
a little while in the morning he had to censor letters, but he was free
after that to spend the rest of each day lying around idly with a clear
conscience. He was comfortable in the hospital, and it was easy to stay
on because he always ran a temperature of 101. He was even more
comfortable than Dunbar, who had to keep falling down on his face in
order to get his meals brought to him in bed.
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.
All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters
written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were kept in residence in
wards of their own. It was a monotonous job, and Yossarian was disappointed
to learn that the lives of enlisted men were only slightly more
interesting than the lives of officers. After the first day he had no
curiosity at all. To break the monotony he invented games. 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 next day
he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity
the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a,
an and the. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt,
and in just about every case left a message far more universal. Soon he
was proscribing parts of salutations and signatures and leaving the text
untouched. One time he blacked out all but the salutation "Dear
Mary" from a letter, and at the bottom he wrote, "I yearn for you tragically.
A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army." A. T. Tappman was the
group chaplain's name.
When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he began
attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole
homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks
of his wrist as though he were God. Catch-22 required that each censored
letter bear the censoring officer's name. Most letters he didn't
read at all. On those he didn't read at all he wrote his own name. On
those he did read he wrote, "Washington Irving." When that grew
monotonous he wrote, "Irving Washington." Censoring the envelopes
had serious repercussions, produced a ripple of anxiety on some ethereal
military echelon that floated a C.I.D. man back into the ward posing
as a patient. They all knew he was a C.I.D. man because he kept
inquiring about an officer named Irving or Washington and because
after his first day there he wouldn't censor letters. He found them too
It was a good ward this time, one of the best he and Dunbar had ever
enjoyed. With them this time was the twenty-four-year-old fighter-
pilot captain with the sparse golden mustache who had been shot into
the Adriatic Sea in midwinter and had not even caught cold. Now the
summer was upon them, the captain had not been shot down, and he
said he had the grippe. In the bed on Yossarian's right, still lying amorously
on his belly, was the startled captain with malaria in his blood and
a mosquito bite on his ass. Across the aisle from Yossarian was Dunbar,
and next to Dunbar was the artillery captain with whom Yossarian had
stopped playing chess. The captain was a good chess player, and the
games were always interesting. Yossarian had stopped playing chess
with him because the games were so interesting they were foolish.
Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone
in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means-decent
folk-should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals,
degenerates, atheists and indecent folk-people without means.
Yossarian was unspringing rhythms in the letters the day they
brought the Texan in. It was another quiet, hot, untroubled day. The
heat pressed heavily on the roof, stifling sound. 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. Dunbar was working so hard at increasing his life
span that Yossarian thought he was dead. They put the Texan in a bed
in the middle of the ward, and it wasn't long before he donated his
Dunbar sat up like a shot. "That's it," he cried excitedly. "There was
something missing-all the time I knew 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 shit?" he asked tiredly, and turned over on his side to go to
The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In
three days no one could stand him.
He sent shudders of annoyance scampering up ticklish spines, and
everybody fled from him-everybody but the soldier in white, who had
no choice. The soldier in white was encased from head to toe in plaster and gauze. He had two useless legs and two useless arms. He had
been smuggled into the ward during the night, and the men had no
idea he was among them until they awoke in the morning and saw the
two strange legs hoisted from the hips, the two strange arms anchored
up perpendicularly, all four limbs pinioned strangely in air by lead
weights suspended darkly above him that never moved. Sewn into the
bandages over the insides of both elbows were zippered lips through
which he was fed clear fluid from a clear jar. A silent zinc pipe rose
from the cement on his groin and was coupled to a slim rubber hose
that carried waste from his kidneys and dripped it efficiently into a
clear, stoppered jar on the floor. When the jar on the floor was full, the
jar feeding his elbow was empty, and the two were simply switched
quickly so that stuff could drip back into him. All they ever really saw
of the soldier in white was a frayed black hole over his mouth.
The soldier in white had been filed next to the Texan, and the Texan
sat sideways on his own bed and talked to him throughout the morning,
afternoon and evening in a pleasant, sympathetic drawl. The
Texan never minded that he got no reply.
Temperatures were taken twice a day in the ward. Early each morning
and late each afternoon Nurse Cramer entered with a jar full of
thermometers and worked her way up one side of the ward and down
the other, distributing a thermometer to each patient. She managed
the soldier in white by inserting a thermometer into the hole over his
mouth and leaving it balanced there on the lower rim. When she
returned to the man in the first bed, she took his thermometer and
recorded his temperature, and then moved on to the next bed and
continued around the ward again. One afternoon when she had completed
her first circuit of the ward and came a second time to the soldier
in white, she read his temperature and discovered that he was
"Murderer," Dunbar said quietly.
The Texan looked up at him with an uncertain grin.
"Killer," Yossarian said.
"What are you talkin' about?" the Texan asked nervously.
"You murdered him," said Dunbar.
"You killed him," said Yossarian.
The Texan shrank back. "You fellas are crazy. 1 didn't even touch
"You murdered him," said Dunbar.
"I heard you kill him," said Yossarian.
"You killed him because he was a nigger," Dunbar said.
"You fellas are crazy," the Texan cried. "They don't allow niggers in
here. They got a special place for niggers."
"The sergeant smuggled him in," Dunbar said.
"The Communist sergeant," said Yossarian.
"And you knew it."
The warrant officer on Yossarian's left was unimpressed by the entire
incident of the soldier in white. The warrant officer was unimpressed
by everything and never spoke at all unless it was to show irritation.
The day before Yossarian met the chaplain, a stove exploded in the
mess hall and set fire to one side of the kitchen. An intense heat flashed
through the area. Even in Yossarian's ward, almost three hundred feet
away, they could hear the roar of the blaze and the sharp cracks of
flaming timber. Smoke sped past the orange-tinted windows. In about
fifteen minutes the crash trucks from the airfield arrived to fight the
fire. For a frantic half hour it was touch and go. Then the ~remen
began to get the upper hand. Suddenly there was the monotonous old
drone of bombers returning from a mission, and the firemen had to
roll up their hoses and speed back to the field in case one of the planes
crashed and caught fire. The planes landed safely. As soon as the last
one was down, the firemen wheeled their trucks around and raced back
up the hill to resume their fight with the fire at the hospital. When
they got there, the blaze was out. It had died of its own accord, expired
completely without even an ember to be watered down, and there was
nothing for the disappointed firemen to do but drink tepid coffee and
hang around trying to screw the nurses.
The chaplain arrived the day after the fire. Yossarian was busy
expurgating all but romance words from the letters when the chaplain
sat down in a chair between the beds and asked him how he was feeling.
He had placed himself a bit to one side, and the captain's bars on
the tab of his shirt collar were all the insignia Yossarian could see.
Yossarian had no idea who he was and just took it for granted that he
was either another doctor or another madman.
"Oh, pretty good," he answered. "I've got a slight pain in my liver
and I haven't been the most regular of fellows, I guess, but all in all I
must admit that I feel pretty good."
"That's good," said the chaplain.
"Yes," Yossarian said. "Yes, that is good."
"I meant to come around sooner," ,the chaplain said, "but I really
haven't been well."
"That's too bad," Yossarian said.
"Just a head cold," the chaplain added quickly.
"I've got a fever of a hundred and one," Yossarian added just as
"That's too bad," said the chaplain.
"Yes," Yossarian agreed. "Yes, that is too bad."
The chaplain fidgeted. "Is there anything I can do for you?" he
asked after a while.
"No, no." Yossarian sighed. "The doctors are doing all that's
humanly possible, I suppose."
"No, no." The chaplain colored faintly. "I didn't mean anything like
that. I meant cigarettes ... or books ... or ... toys."
"No, no," Yossarian said. "Thank you. I have everything I need, I
suppose-everything but good health."
"That's too bad."
"Yes," Yossarian said. "Yes, that is too bad."
The chaplain stirred again. He looked from side to side a few times,
then gazed up at the ceiling, then down at the floor. He drew a deep
"Lieutenant Nately sends his regards," he said.
Yossarian was sorry to hear they had a mutual friend. It seemed
there was a basis to their conversation after all. "You know Lieutenant
Nately?" he asked regretfully.
"Yes, I know Lieutenant Nately quite well."
"He's a bit loony, isn't he?"
The chaplain's smile was embarrassed. "I'm afraid I couldn't say. I
don't think I know him that well."
"You can take my word for it," Yossarian said. "He's as goofy as they
The chaplain weighed the next silence heavily and then shattered it
with an abrupt question. "You are Captain Yossarian, aren't you?"
"Nately ·had a bad start. He came from a good family."
"Please excuse me," the chaplain persisted timorously. "I may be
committing a very grave error. Are you Captain Yossarian?"
"Yes," Captain Yossarian confessed. "I am Captain Yossarian."
"Of the 256th Squadron?"
"Of the fighting 256th Squadron," Yossarian replied. "I didn't know
there were any other Captain Yossarians. As far as I know, I'm the only
Captain Yossarian I know, but that's only as far as I know."
"I see," the chaplain said unhappily.
"That's two to the fighting eighth power," Yossarian pointed out, "if
you're thinking of writing a symbolic poem about our squadron."
"No," mumbled the chaplain. "I'm not thinking of writing a symbolic
poem about your squadron."
Yossarian straightened sharply when he spied the tiny silver cross on
the other side of the chaplain's collar. He was thoroughly astonished,
for he had never really talked with a chaplain before.
"You're a chaplain," he exclaimed ecstatically. "I didn't know you
were a chaplain."
"Why, yes," the chaplain answered. "Didn't you know I was a chaplain?"
"Why, no. I didn't know you were a chaplain." Yossarian stared at
him with a big, fascinated grin. "I've never really seen a chaplain
The chaplain flushed again and gazed down at his hands. He was a
slight man of about thirty-two with tan hair and brown diffident eyes.
His face was narrow and rather pale. An innocent nest of ancient pimple
pricks lay in the basin of each cheek. Yossarian wanted to help him.
"Can I do anything at all to help you?" the chaplain asked.
Yossarian shook his head, still grinning. "No, I'm sorry. I have
everything I need and I'm quite comfortable. In fact, I'm not even
"That's good." As soon as the chaplain said the words, he was sorry
and shoved his knuckles into his mouth with a giggle of alarm, but
Yossarian remained silent and disappointed him. "There are other men
in the group I must visit," he apologized finally. "I'll come to see you
again, probably tomorrow."
"Please do that," Yossarian said.
"I'll come only if you want me to," the chaplain said, lowering his
head shyly. "I've noticed that I make many of the men uncomfortable."
Yossarian glowed with affection. "I want you to," he said. "You won't
make me uncomfortable."
The chaplain beamed gratefully and then peered down at a slip of
paper he had been concealing in his hand all the while. He counted
along the beds in the ward, moving his lips, and then centered his
attention dubiously on Dunbar.
"May I inquire," he whispered softly, "if that is Lieutenant
"Yes," Yossarian answered loudly, "that is Lieutenant Dunbar."
"Thank you," the chaplain whispered. "Thank you very much. I
must visit with him. I must visit with every member of the group who
is in the hospital."
"Even those in the other wards?" Yossarian asked.
"Even those in the other wards."
I "Be careful in those other wards, Father," Yossarian warned. "That's
where they keep the mental cases. They're filled with lunatics."
"It isn't necessary to call me Father," the chaplain explained. "I'm an
"I'm dead serious about those other wards," Yossarian continued
grimly. "M.P.s won't protect you, because they're craziest of all. I'd go
with you myself, but I'm scared stiff. Insanity is contagious. This is the
only sane ward in the whole hospital. Everybody is crazy but us. This
is probably the only sane ward in the whole world, for that matter."
The chaplain rose quickly and edged away from Yossarian's bed, and
then nodded with a conciliating smile and promised to conduct himself
with appropriate caution. "And now I must visit with Lieutenant
Dunbar," he said. Still he lingered, remorsefully. "How is Lieutenant
Dunbar?" he asked at last.
"As good as they go," Yossarian assured him. "A true prince. One of
the finest, least dedicated men in the whole world."
"I didn't mean that," the chaplain answered, whispering again. "Is
he very sick?"
"No, he isn't very sick. In fact, he isn't sick at all."
"That's good." The chaplain sighed with relief.
"Yes," Yossarian said. "Yes, that is good."
"A chaplain," Dunbar said when the chaplain had visited him and
gone. "Did you see that? A chaplain."
"Wasn't he sweet?" said Yossarian. "Maybe they should give him
three votes."
"Who's they?" Dunbar demanded suspiciously.
In a bed in the small private section at the end of the ward, always
working ceaselessly behind the green plyboard partition, was the
solemn middle-aged colonel who was visited every day by a gentle,
sweet-faced woman with curly ash-blond hair who was not a nurse and
not a Wac and not a Red Cross girl but who nevertheless appeared
faithfully at the hospital in Pianosa each afternoon wearing pretty pastel
summer dresses that were very smart and white leather pumps with
heels half high at the base of nylon seams that were inevitably straight.
The colonel was in Communications, and he was kept busy day and
night transmitting glutinous messages from the interior into square
pads of gauze which he sealed meticulously and delivered to a covered
white pail that stood on the night table beside his bed. The colonel was
gorgeous. He had a cavernous mouth, cavernous cheeks, cavernous,
sad, mildewed eyes. His face was the color of clouded silver. He
coughed quietly, gingerly, and dabbed the pads slowly at his lips with a
distaste that had become automatic.
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 ~f
he could feel. There was a urologist for his urine, a lym-phologist 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, a 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 LB.M.
machine and spent his sessions 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. Neat, slender and erect, the woman touched him often as she
sat by his bedside and was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she
smiled. The colonel was tall, thin and stooped. When he rose to walk,
he bent forward even more, making a deep cavity of his body, and
placed his feet down very carefully, moving ahead by inches from the
knees down. There were violet pools under his eyes. The woman spoke
softly, softer even than the colonel coughed, and none of the men in
the ward ever heard her voice.
In less than ten days the Texan cleared the ward. The artillery captain
broke first, and after that the exodus started. Dunbar, Yossarian
and the fighter captain all bolted the same morning. Dunbar stopped
having dizzy spells, and the fighter captain blew his nose. Yossarian
told the doctors that the pain in his liver had gone away. It was as easy
as that. Even the warrant officer fled. In less than ten days, the Texan
drove everybody in the ward back to duty-everybody but the C.I.D.
man, who had caught cold from the fighter captain and come down
with pneumonia.

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:02 pm
by admin
2. Clevinger

In a way the C.I.D. man was pretty lucky, because outside the hospital
the war was still going on. Men went mad and were rewarded with
medals. Allover 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. There was no end in sight. The only end in sight was
Yossarian's own, and he might have remained in the hospital until
doomsday had it not been for that patriotic Texan with his infundibuliform
jowls and his lumpy, rumpleheaded, indestructible smile cracked
forever across the front of his face like the brim of a black ten-gallon
hat. The Texan wanted everybody in the ward to be happy but Yossarian
and Dunbar. He was really very sick.
But Yossarian couldn't be happy, even though the Texan didn't want
him to be, because outside the hospital there was still nothing funny
going on. The only thing going on was a war, and no one seemed to
notice but Yossarian and Dunbar. And when Yossarian tried to remind
people, they drew away from him and thought he was crazy. Even
Clevinger, who should have known better but didn't, had told him he
was crazy the last time they had seen each other, which was just before
Yossarian had fled into the hospital.
Clevinger had stared at him with apoplectic rage and indignation
and, clawing the table with both hands, had shouted, "You're crazy!"
"Clevinger, what do you want from people?" Dunbar had replied
wearily above the noises of the officers' club.
"I'm not joking," Clevinger persisted.
"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?"
Clevinger was already on the way, half out of his chair with emotion,
his eyes moist and his lips quivering and pale. 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.
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. And if that wasn't funny, there were lots of things that weren't even
funnier. There was nothing funny about living like a bum in a tent in
Pianosa between fat mountains behind him and a placid blue sea in
front that could gulp down a person with a cramp in the twinkling of
an eye and ship him back to shore three days later, all charges paid,
bloated, blue and putrescent, water draining out through both cold
The tent he lived in stood right smack up against the wall of the
shallow, dull-colored forest separating his own squadron from Dunbar's.
Immediately alongside was the abandoned railroad ditch that
carried the pipe that carried the aviation gasoline down to the fuel
trucks at the airfield. Thanks to Orr, his roommate, it was the most
luxurious tent in the squadron. Each time Yossarian returned from one
of his holidays in the hospital or rest leaves in Rome, he was surprised
by some new comfort Orr had installed in his absence-running water,
wood-burning fireplace, cement floor. Yossarian had chosen the site,
and he and Orr had raised the tent together. Orr, who was a grinning
pygmy with pilot's wings and thick, wavy brown hair parted in the middle,
furnished all the knowledge, while Yossarian, who was taller,
stronger, broader and faster, did most of the work. Just the two of them
lived there, although the tent was big enough for six. When summer
came, Orr rolled up the side flaps to allow a breeze that never blew to
flush away the air baking inside.
Immediately next door to Yossarian was Havermeyer, who liked
peanut brittle and lived all by himself in the two-man tent in which he
shot tiny field mice every night with huge bullets from the .45 he had
stolen from the dead man in Yossarian's tent. On the other side of
Havermeyer stood the tent McWatt no longer shared with Clevinger,
who had still not returned when Yossarian came out of the hospital.
McWatt shared his tent now with Nately who was away in Rome courting
the sleepy whore he had fallen so deeply in love with there who was
bored with her work and bored with him too. McWatt was crazy. He
was a pilot and flew his plane as low as he dared over Yossarian's tent as
often as he could, just to see how much he could frighten him, and
loved to go buzzing with a wild, close roar over the wooden raft floating
on empty oil drums out past the sand bar at the immaculate white
beach where the men went swimming naked. Sharing a tent with a man
who was crazy wasn't easy, but Nately didn't care. He was crazy, too,
and had gone every free day to work on the officers' club that Yossarian
had not helped build.
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
truly a splendid structure, 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.
There were four of them seated together at a table in the officers'
club the last time he and Clevinger had called each other crazy. They
were seated in back near the crap table on which Appleby always managed
to win. 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.
The argument with Clevinger had begun a few minutes earlier
when Yossarian had been unable to find a machine gun. It was a busy
night. The bar was busy, the crap table was busy, the Ping-Pong table
was busy. The people Yossarian wanted to machine-gun were busy at
the bar singing sentimental old favorites that nobody else ever tired of.
Instead of machine-gunning them, he brought his heel down hard on
the Ping-Pong ball that came rolling toward him off the paddle of one
of the two officers playing.
"That Yossarian," the two officers laughed, shaking their heads, and
got another ball from the box on the shelf.
"That Yossarian," Yossarian answered them.
"Yossarian," Nately whispered cautioningly.
"You see what I mean?" asked Clevinger.
The officers laughed again when they heard Yossarian mimicking
them. "That Yossarian," they said more loudly.
"That Yossarian," Yossarian echoed.
"Yossarian, please," Nately pleaded.
"You see what I mean?" asked Clevinger. "He has antisocial aggressions."
"Oh, shut up," Dunbar told Clevinger. Dunbar liked Clevinger because
Clevinger annoyed him and made the time go slow.
"Appleby isn't even here," Clevinger pointed out triumphantly to
"Who said anything about Appleby?" Yossarian wanted to know.
"Colonel Cathcart isn't here, either."
"Who said anything about Colonel Cathcart?"
"What son of a bitch do you hate, then?"
"What son of a bitch is here?"
"I'm not going to argue with you," Clevinger decided. "You don't
know who you hate."
"Whoever's trying to poison me," Yossarian told him.
"Nobody's trying to poison you."
"They poisoned my food twice, didn't they? Didn't they put poison
in my food during Ferrara and during the Great Big Siege of
"They put poison in everybody's food," Clevinger explained.
"And what difference does that make?"
"And it wasn't even poison!" Clevinger cried heatedly, growing
more emphatic as he grew more confused.
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 2-247. He was-
"Crazy!" Clevinger interrupted, shrieking. "That's what you are!
"-immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, threefisted
humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman."
"Superman?" Clevinger cried. "Superman?"
"Supraman," Yossarian corrected.
"Hey, fellas, cut it out," Nately begged with embarrassment.
"Everybody's looking at us."
"You're crazy," Clevinger shouted vehemently, his eyes filling with
tears. "You've got a Jehovah complex."
"I think everyone is Nathaniel."
Clevinger arrested himself in mid-declamation, suspiciously.
"Who's Nathaniel?"
"Nathaniel who?" inquired Yossarian innocently.
Clevinger skirted the trap neatly. "You think everybody is Jehovah.
You're no better than Raskolnikov-"
"-yes, Raskolnikov, who--"
"Raskolnikov! "
"-who--I mean it-who felt he could justify killing an old
"No better than?"
"-yes, justify, that's right-with an ax! And 1 can prove it to you!"
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
But Yossarian knew he was right, because, as he explained to
Clevinger, to the best of his knowledge he had never been wrong.
Everywhere he looked was a nut, and it was all a sensible young gentleman
like himself could do to maintain his perspective amid so much
madness. And it was urgent that he did, for he knew his life was in
Yossarian eyed everyone he saw warily when he returned to the
squadron from the hospital. Milo was away, too, in Smyrna for the fig
harvest. The mess hall ran smoothly in Milo's absence. Yossarian had
responded ravenously to the pungent aroma of spicy lamb while he was
still in the cab of the ambulance bouncing down along the knotted
road that lay like a broken suspender between the hospital and the
squadron. There ~as shish-kabob for lunch, huge, savory hunks of
spitted meat sizzling like the devil over charcoal after marinating
seventy-two hours in a secret mixture Milo had stolen from a crooked
trader in the Levant, served with Iranian rice and asparagus tips
Parmesan, followed by cherries jubilee for dessert and then steaming
cups of fresh coffee with Benedictine and brandy. The meal was served
in enormous helpings on damask tablecloths by the skilled Italian waiters
Major -- de Coverley had kidnapped from the mainland and
given to Milo.
Yossarian gorged himself in the mess hall until he thought he would
explode and then sagged back in a contented stupor, his mouth filmy
with a succulent residue. None of the officers in the squadron had ever
eaten so well as they ate regularly in Milo's mess hall, and Yossarian
wondered awhile if it wasn't perhaps all worth it. But then he burped
and remembered that they were trying to kill him, and he sprinted out
of the mess hall wildly and, ran looking for Doc Daneeka to have himself
taken off combat duty and sent home. He found Doc Daneeka in
sunlight, sitting on a high stool outside his tent.
"Fifty missions," Doc Daneeka told him, shaking his head. "The
colonel wants fifty missions."
"But I've only got forty-four!"
Doc Daneeka was unmoved. He was a sad, birdlike man with the
spatulate face and scrubbed, tapering features of a well-groomed rat.
"Fifty missions," he repeated, still shaking his head. "The colonel
wants fifty missions."

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:02 pm
by admin
3. Havermeyer

Actually, no one was around when Yossarian returned from the hospital
but Orr and the dead man in Yossarian's tent. The dead man in
Yossarian's tent was a pest, and Yossarian didn't like him, even though
he had never seen him. Having him lying around all day annoyed
Yossarian so much that he had gone to the orderly room several times
to complain to Sergeant Towser, who refused to admit that the dead
man even existed, which, of course, he no longer did. It was still more
frustrating to try to appeal directly to Major Major, the long and bony
squadron commander, who looked a little bit like Henry Fonda in
distress an'd went jumping out the window of his office each time
Yossarian bullied his way past Sergeant Towser to speak to him about
it. The dead man in Yossarian's tent was simply not easy to live with.
He even disturbed Orr, who was not easy to live with, either, and who,
on the day Yossarian came back, was tinkering with the faucet that fed
gasoline into the stove he had started building while Yossarian was in
the hospital.
"What are you doing?" Yossarian asked guardedly when he entered
the tent, although he saw at once.
"There's a leak here," Orr said. "I'm trying to fix it."
"Please stop it," said Yossarian. "You're making me nervous."
"When I was a kid," Orr replied, "I used to walk around all day with
crab apples in my cheeks. One in each cheek."
Yossarian put aside the musette bag from which he had begun removing
his toilet articles and braced himself suspiciously. A minute
passed. "Why?" he found himself forced to ask finally.
Orr tittered triumphantly. "Because they're better than horse chestnuts,"
he answered.
Orr was kneeling on the floor of the tent. He worked without pause,
taking the faucet apart, spreading all the tiny pieces out carefully,
counting and then studying each one interminably as though he had
never seen anything remotely similar before, and then reassembling
the whole small apparatus, over and over and over and over again, with
no loss of patience or interest, no sign of fatigue, no indication of ever
concluding. Yossarian watched him tinkering and felt certain he would
be compelled to murder him in cold blood if he did not stop. His
eyes moved toward the hunting knife that had been slung over the
mosquito-net bar by the dead man the day he arrived. The knife hung
beside the dead man's empty leather gun holster, from which
Havermeyer had stolen the gun.
"When I couldn't get crab apples," Orr continued, "I used horse
chestnuts. Horse chestnuts are about the same size as crab apples and
actually have a better shape, although the shape doesn't matter a bit."
"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."
Orr giggled. Yossarian made up his mind to keep his mouth shut and
did. Orr waited. Yossarian waited longer.
"One in each cheek," Orr said.
Orr pounced. "Why what?"
Yossarian shook his head, smiling, and refused to say.
"It's a funny thing about this valve," Orr mused aloud.
"What is?" Yossarian asked.
"Because I wanted-"
Yossarian knew. "Jesus Christ! Why did you want-"
"-apple cheeks."
"-apple cheeks?" Yossarian demanded.
"I wanted apple cheeks," Orr repeated. "Even when I was a kid I
wanted apple cheeks someday, and I decided to work at it until I got
them, and by God, I did work at it until I got them, and that's how I
did it, with crab apples in my cheeks all day long." He giggled again.
"One in each cheek."
"Why did you want apple cheeks?"
"I didn't want apple cheeks," Orr said. "I wanted big cheeks. I didn't
care about the color so much, but I wanted them big. I worked at it just
like one of those crazy guys you read about who go around squeezing
rubber balls all day long just to strengthen their hands. In fact, I was
one of those crazy guys. I used to walk around all day with rubber balls
in my hands, too."
"Why what?"
"Why did you walk around all day with rubber balls in your hands?"
"Because rubber balls-" said Orr.
"-are better than crab apples?"
Orr sniggered as he shook his head. "I did it to protect my good reputation
in case anyone ever caught me walking around with crab apples
in my cheeks. With rubber balls in my hands I could deny there were
crab apples in my cheeks. Every time someone asked me why I was
walking around with crab apples in my cheeks, I'd just open my hands
and show them it was rubber balls I was walking around with, not crab
apples, and that they were in my hands, not my cheeks. It was a good
story. But I never knew if it got across or not, since it's pretty tough to
make people understand you when you're talking to them with two
crab apples in your cheeks."
Yossarian found it pretty tough to understand him then, and he
wondered once again if Ou wasn't talking to him with the tip of his
tongue in one of his apple cheeks.
Yossarian decided not to utter another word. It would be futile. He
knew Ou, and he knew there was not a chance in hell of finding out
from him then why he had wanted big cheeks. It would do no more
good to ask than it had done to ask him why that whore had kept beating
him over the head with her shoe that morning in Rome in the
cramped vestibule outside the open door of Nately's whore's kid sister's
room. She was a tall, strapping girl with long hair and incandescent
blue veins converging populously beneath her cocoa-colored skin
where the flesh was most tender, and she kept cursing and shrieking
and jumping high up into the air on her bare feet to keep right on hitting
him on the top of his head with the spiked heel of her shoe. They
were both naked, and raising a rumpus that brought everyone in the
apartment into the hall to watch, each couple in a bedroom doorway,
all of them naked except the aproned and sweatered old woman, who
clucked reprovingly, and the lecherous, dissipated old man, who cackled
aloud hilariously through the whole episode with a kind of avid and
superior glee. The girl shrieked and Ou giggled. Each time she landed
with the heel of her shoe, Orr giggled louder, infuriating her still
further so that she flew up still higher into the air for another shot at
his noodle, her wondrously full breasts soaring all over the place like
billowing pennants in a strong wind and her buttocks and strong thighs
shim-sham-shimmying this way and that way like some horrifying
bonanza. She shrieked and Orr giggled right up to the time she
shrieked and knocked him cold with a good solid crack on the temple
that made him stop giggling and sent him off to the hospital in a
stretcher with a hole in his head that wasn't very deep and a very mild
concussion that kept him out of combat only twelve days.
Nobody could find out what had happened, not even the cackling
old man and clucking old woman, who were in a position to find out
everything that happened in that vast and endless brothel with its multitudinous
bedrooms on facing sides of the narrow hallways going off
in opposite directions from the spacious sitting room with its shaded
windows and single lamp. Every time she met Orr after that, she'd
hoist her skirts up over her tight white elastic panties and, jeering
coarsely, bulge her firm, round belly out at him, cursing him contemptuously
and then roaring with husky laughter as she saw him giggle
fearfully and take refuge behind Yossarian. Whatever he had done
or tried to do or failed to do behind the closed door of Nately's whore's
kid sister's room was still a secret. The girl wouldn't tell Nately's whore
or any of the other whores or Nately or Yossarian. Orr might tell, but
Yossarian had decided not to utter another word.
"Do you want to know why I wanted big cheeks?" Orr asked.
Yossarian kept his mouth shut.
"Do you remember," Orr said, "that time in Rome when that girl
who can't stand you kept hitting me over the head with the heel of her
shoe? Do you want to know why she was hitting me?"
It was still impossible to imagine what he could have done to make
her angry enough to hammer him over the head for fifteen or twenty
minutes, yet not angry enough to pick him up by the ankles and dash
his brains out. She was certainly tall enough, and Orr was certainly
short enough. Orr had buck teeth and bulging eyes to go with his big
cheeks and was even smaller than young Huple, who lived on the
wrong side of the railroad tracks in the tent in the administration area
in which Hungry Joe lay screaming in his sleep every night.
The administration area in which Hungry Joe had pitched his tent
by mistake lay in the center of the squadron between the ditch, with its
rusted railroad tracks, and the tilted black bituminous road. The men
could pick up girls along that road if they promised to take them where
they wanted to go, buxom, young, homely, grinning girls with missing
teeth whom they could drive off the road and lie down in the wild grass
with, and Yossarian did whenever he could, which was not nearly as
often as Hungry Joe, who could get a jeep but couldn't drive, begged
him to try. The tents of the enlisted men in the squadron stood on the
other side of the road alongside the open-air movie theater in which,
for the daily amusement of the dying, ignorant armies clashed by night
on a collapsible screen, and to which another U.S.A. troupe came that
same afternoon.
The U.S.A. troupes were sent by General P. P. Peckem, who had
moved his headquarters up to Rome and had nothing better to do
while he schemed against General Dreedle. 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, who ran a fighting outfit, it seemed a lot
of crap. Furthermore, it was none of General Peckem's goddam 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. General Dreedle was victorious by default.
To regain whatever status he had lost, General Peckem began sending
out more U.S.A. troupes than he had ever sent out before and
assigned to Colonel Cargill himself the responsibility of generating
enough enthusiasm for them.
But there was no enthusiasm in Yossarian's group. In Yossarian's
group there was only a mounting number of enlisted men and officers
who found their way solemnly to Sergeant Towser several times a day
to ask if the orders sending them home had come in. They were men
who had finished their fifty missions. There were more of them now
than when Yossarian had gone into the hospital, and they were still
waiting. They worried and bit their nails. They were grotesque, like
useless young men in a depression. They moved sideways, like crabs.
They were waiting for the orders sending them home to safety to
return from Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters in Italy, and
while they waited they had nothing to do but worry and bite their nails
and find their way solemnly to Sergeant Towser several times a day to
ask if the orders sending them home to safety had come.
They were in a race and knew it, because they knew from bitter
experience that Colonel Cathcart might raise the number of missions
again at any time. They had nothing better to do than wait. Only
Hungry Joe had something better to do each time he finished his missions.
He had screaming nightmares and won fist fights with Huple's
cat. He took his camera to the front row of every U.S.A. show and
tried to shoot pictures up the skirt of the yellow-headed singer with
two big ones in a sequined dress that always seemed ready to burst.
The pictures never came out.
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.
"Men," Colonel Cargill began in Yossarian's squadron, measuring
his pauses carefully. "You're American officers. The officers of no
other army in the world can make that statement. Think about it."
Sergeant Knight thought about it and then politely informed
Colonel Cargill that he was addressing the enlisted men and that the
officers were to be found waiting for him on the other side of the
squadron. Colonel Cargill thanked him crisply and glowed with self-
satisfaction as he strode across the area. It made him proud to observe
that twenty-nine months in the service had not blunted his genius for
"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." He waited a
moment to permit them to think about it. "These people are your
guests!" he shouted suddenly. "They've traveled over three thousand
miles to entertain you. How are they going to feel if nobody wants to
go out and watch them? What's going to happen to their morale? Now,
men, it's no skin off my behind. But that girl that wants to play the
accordion for you today is old enough to be a mother. How would you
feel if your own mother traveled over three thousand miles to play the
accordion for some troops that didn't want to watch her? How is that
kid whose mother that accordion player is old enough to be going to
feel when he grows up and learns about it? We all know the answer to
that one. Now, men, don't misunderstand me. This is all voluntary, of
course. I'd be the last colonel in the world to order you to go to that
U.S.O. show and have a good time, but I want every one of you who
isn't sick enough to be in a hospital to go to that U.S.O. show right
now and have a good time, and that's an order!"
Yossarian did feel ahnost sick enough to go back into the hospital,
and he felt even sicker three combat missions later when Doc Daneeka
still shook his melancholy head and refused to ground him.
"You think you've got troubles?" Doc Daneeka rebuked him grievingly.
"What about me? I lived on peanuts for- eight years while I
learned how to be a doctor. After the peanuts, I lived on chicken feed
in my own office until I could build up a practice decent enough to
even pay expenses. Then, just as the shop was finally starting to show
a profit, they drafted me. I don't know what you're complaining
Doc Daneeka was Yossarians friend and would do just about nothing
in his power to help him. Yossarian listened very carefully as Doc
Daneeka told him about Colonel Cathcart at Group, who wanted to be
a general, about General Dreedle at Wing and General Dreedle's
nurse, and about all the other generals at Twenty-seventh Air Force
Headquarters, who insisted on only forty missions as a completed tour
of duty.
"Why don't you just smile and make the best of it?" he advised
Yossarian glumly. "Be like Havermeyer."
Yossarian shuddered at the suggestion. Havermeyer was a lead bombardier
who never took evasive action going in to the target and thereby
increased the danger of all the men who flew in the same formation
with him.
"Havermeyer, why the hell don't you ever take evasive action?" they
would demand in a rage after the mission.
"Hey, you men leave Captain Havermeyer alone," Colonel Cathcart
would order. "He's the best damned bombardier we've got."
Havermeyer grinned and nodded and tried to explain how he dumdummed
the bullets with a hunting knife before he fired them at the
field mice in his tent every night. Havermeyer was the best damned
bombardier they had, but he flew straight and level all the way from
the J.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.
Havermeyer was a lead bombardier who never missed. Yossarian
was a lead bombardier who had been demoted because he no longer
gave a damn whether he missed or not. 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.
The men had loved flying behind Yossarian, who used to come barreling
in over the target from all directions and every height, climbing
and diving and twisting and turning so steeply and sharply that it was
all the pilots of the other five planes could do to stay in formation with
him, leveling out only for the two or three seconds it took for the
bombs to drop and then zooming off again with an aching howl of
engines, and wrenching his flight through the air so violently as he
wove his way through the filthy barrages of flak that the six planes were
soon flung out all over the sky like prayers, each one a pushover for the
German fighters, which was just fine with Yossarian, for there were no
German fighters any more and he did not want any exploding planes
near his when they exploded. Only when all the Sturm und Drang had
been left far behind would he tip his flak helmet back wearily on his
sweating head ;md stop barking directions to McWatt at the controls,
who had nothing better to wonder about at a time like that than where
the bombs had fallen.
"Bomb bay clear," Sergeant Knight in the back would announce.
"Did we hit the bridge?" McWatt would ask.
"I couldn't see, sir, I kept getting bounced around back here pretty
hard and I couldn't see. Everything's covered with smoke now and I
can't see."
"Hey, Aarfy, did the bombs hit the target?"
"What target?" Captain Aardvaark, Yossarian's plump, pipesmoking
navigator would say from the confusion of maps he had created
at Yossarian's side in the nose of the ship. "I don't think we're at
the target yet. Are we?"
"Yossarian, did the bombs hit the target?"
"What bombs?" answered Yossarian, whose only concern had been
the flak.
"Oh, well," McWatt would sing, "what the hell."
Yossarian did not give a damn whether he hit the target or not, just
as long as Havermeyer or one of the other lead bombardiers did and
they never had to go back. Every now and then someone grew angry
enough at Havermeyer to throw a punch at him.
"I said you men leave Captain Havermeyer alone," Colonel Cathcart
warned them all angrily. "I said he's the best damned bombardier
we've got, didn't I?"
Havermeyer grinned at the colonel's intervention and shoved
another piece of peanut brittle inside his face.
Havermeyer had grown very proficient at shooting field mice at
night with the gun he had stolen from the dead man in Yossarian's tent.
His bait was a bar of candy and he would presight in the darkness as he
sat waiting for the nibble with a finger of his other hand inside a loop
of the line he had run from the frame of his mosquito net to the chain
of the unfrosted light bulb overhead. The line was taut as a banjo
string, and the merest tug would snap it on and blind the shivering
quarry in a blaze of light. Havermeyer would chortle exultantly as he
watched the tiny mammal freeze and roll its terrified eyes about in
frantic search of the intruder. Havermeyer would wait until the eyes
fell upon his own and then he laughed aloud and pulled the trigger at
the same time, showering the rank, furry body all over the tent with a
reverberating crash and dispatching its timid soul back to his or her
Late one night, Havermeyer fired a shot at a mouse that brought
Hungry Joe bolting out at him barefoot, ranting at the top of his
screechy voice and emptying his own .45 into Havermeyer's tent as he
came charging down one side of the ditch and up the other and vanished
all at once inside one of the slit trenches that had appeared like
magic beside every tent the morning after Milo Minderbinder had
bombed the squadron. It was just before dawn during the Great Big
Siege of Bologna, when tongueless dead men peopled the night hours
like living ghosts and Hungry Joe was half out of his mind with anxiety
because he had finished his missions again and was not scheduled
to fly. Hungry Joe was babbling incoherently when they fished him out
from the dank bottom of the slit trench, babbling of snakes, rats and
spiders. The others flashed their searchlights down just to make sure.
There was nothing inside but a few inches of stagnant rain water.
"You see?" cried Havermeyer. "I told you. I told you he was crazy,
didn't I?"

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:03 pm
by admin
4. Doc Daneeka

Hungry Joe was crazy and no one knew it better than Yossarian, who
did everything he could to help him. Hungry Joe just wouldn't listen
to Yossarian. Hungry Joe just wouldn't listen because he thought Yossanan
was crazy.
"Why should he listen to you?" Doc Daneeka inquired of Yossarian
without looking up.
"Because he's got troubles."
Doc Daneeka snorted scornfully. "He thinks he's got troubles? What
about me?" Doc Daneeka continued slowly with a gloomy sneer. "Oh,
I'm not complaining. I know there's a war on. I know a lot of people are
going to have to suffer for us to win it. But why must I be one of them?
Why don't they draft some of these old doctors who keep shooting their
kissers off in public about what big sacrifices the medical game stands
ready to make? I don't want to make sacrifices. I want to make dough."
Doc Daneeka was a very neat, clean man whose idea of a good time
was to sulk. He had a dark complexion and a small, wise, saturnine face
with mournful pouches under both eyes. He brooded over his health
continually and went almost daily to the medical tent to have his temperature
taken by one of the two enlisted men there who ran things for
him practically on their own, and ran it so efficiently that he was left
with little else to do but sit in the sunlight with his stuffed nose and
wonder what other people were so worried about. Their names were
Gus and Wes and they had succeeded in elevating medicine to an exact
science. All men reporting on sick call with temperatures above 102
were rushed to the hospital. All those except Yossarian reporting on
sick call with temperatures below 102 had their gums and toes painted
with gentian violet solution and were given a laxative to throwaway
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. Yossarian, with his temperature of 101, could go to the
hospital whenever he wanted to because he was not afraid of them.
The system worked just fine for everybody, especially for Doc
Daneeka, who found himself with all the time he needed to watch old
Major --' de Coverley pitching horseshoes in his private horseshoepitching
pit, still wearing the transparent eye patch Doc Daneeka had
fashioned for him from the strip of celluloid stolen from Major Major's
orderly room window months before when Major -- de Coverley
had returned from Rome with an injured cornea after renting two
apartments there for the officers and enlisted men to use on their rest
leaves. The only time Doc Daneeka ever went to the medical tent was
the time he began to feel he was a very sick man each day and stopped
in just to have Gus and Wes look him over. They could never find anything
wrong with him. His temperature was always 96.8, which was
perfectly all right with them, as long as he didn't mind. Doc Daneeka
did mind. He was beginning to lose confidence in Gus and Wes and
was thinking of having them both transferred back to the motor pool
and replaced by someone who could find something wrong.
Doc Daneeka was personally familiar with a number of things that
were drastically wrong. In addition to his health, he worried about the
Pacific Ocean and flight time. Health was something no one ever could
be sure of for a long enough time. The Pacific Ocean was a body of
water surrounded on all sides by elephantiasis and other dread diseases
to which, if he ever displeased Colonel Cathcart by grounding Yossarian,
he might suddenly find himself transferred. And flight time was
the time he had to spend in airplane flight each month in order to get
his flight pay. Doc Daneeka hated to fly. He felt imprisoned in an airplane.
In an airplane there was absolutely no place in the world to go
except to another part of the airplane. Doc Daneeka had been told that
people who enjoyed climbing into an airplane were really giving vent
to a subsconscious desire to climb back into the womb. He had been
told this by Yossarian, who made it possible for Dan Daneeka to collect
his flight pay each month without ever climbing back into the
womb. Yossarian would persuade McWatt to enter Doc Daneeka's
name on his flight log for training missions or trips to Rome.
"You know how it is," Doc Daneeka had wheedled, with a sly, conspiratorial
wink. "Why take chances when I don't have to?"
"Sure," Yossarian agreed.
"What difference does it make to anyone if I'm in the plane or not?"
"No difference."
"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 cooperation. 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.
There was something fearful and minute about Doc Daneeka as he
sat despondently outside his tent in the sunlight as often as he could,
dressed in khaki summer trousers and a short-sleeved summer shirt
that was bleached almost to an antiseptic gray by the daily laundering
to which he had it subjected. He was like a man who had grown frozen
with horror once and had never come completely unthawed. He sat all
tucked up into himself, his slender shoulders huddled halfway around
his head, his suntanned hands with their luminous silver fingernails
massaging the backs of his bare, folded arms gently as though he were
cold. Actually, he was a very warm, compassionate man who never
stopped feeling sorry for himself.
"Why me?" was his constant lament, and the question was a good
Yossarian knew it was a good one because Yossarian was a collector
of good questions and had used them to disrupt the educational sessions
Clevinger had once conducted two nights a week in Captain Black's
intelligence tent with the corporal in eyeglasses who everybody knew
was probably a subversive. Captain Black knew he was a subversive
because he wore eyeglasses and used words like panacea and utopia, and
because he disapproved of Adolf Hitler, who had done such a great job
of combating un-American activities in Germany. Yossarian attended
the education sessions because he wanted to find out why so many people
were working so hard to kill him. A handful of other men were also
interested, and the questions were many and good when Clevinger and
the subversive corporal finished and made the mistake of asking if there
were any.
"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."
all rang out in rapid succession, and then there was Yossarian with the
question that had no answer:
"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?"
The question upset them, because Snowden had been killed over
Avignon when Dobbs went crazy in mid-air and seized the controls
away from Huple.
The corporal played it dumb. "What?" he asked.
"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Ou sont les Neigedens d'antan?" Yossarian said to make it easier for
"Parlez en anglais, for Christ's sake," said the corporal. "Je ne parle
pas franfais."
"Neither do I," answered Yossarian, who was ready to pursue him
through all the words in the world to wring the knowledge from him
if he could, but Clevinger intervened, pale, thin, and laboring for
breath, a humid coating of tears already glistening in his undernourished
Group Headquarters was alarmed, for there was no telling what
people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions
they wanted to. Colonel Cathcart sent Colonel Korn to stop it, and
Colonel Korn succeeded with a rule governing the asking of questions.
Colonel Korn's rule was a stroke of genius, Colonel Korn explained in
his report to Colonel Cathcart. Under Colonel Korn's rule, the only
people permitted to ask questions were those who never did. Soon the
only people attending were those who never asked questions, and the
sessions were discontinued altogether, since Clevinger, the corporal
and Colonel Korn agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to
educate people who never questioned anything.
Colonel Cathcart and Lieutenant Colonel Korn lived and worked in
the Group Headquarters building, as did all the members of the headquarters
staff, with the exception of the chaplain. The Group Headquarters
building was an enormous, windy, antiquated structure built
of powdery red stone and banging plumbing. Behind the building was
the modern skeet-shooting range that had been constructed by
Colonel C~thcart for the exclusive recreation of the officers at Group
and at which every officer and enlisted man on combat status now,
thanks to General Dreedle, had to spend a minimum of eight hours a
Yossarian shot skeet, but never hit any. Appleby shot skeet and never
missed. Yossarian was as bad at shooting skeet as he was at gambling.
He could never win money gambling either. Even when he cheated he
couldn't win, because the people he cheated against were always better
at cheating too. These were two disappointments to which he had
resigned himself: he would never be a skeet shooter, and he would
never make money.
"It takes brains not to make money," Colonel Cargill wrote in one
of the homiletic memoranda he regularly prepared for circulation over
General Peckem's signature. "Any fool can make money these days and
most of them do. But what about people with talent and brains? Name,
for example, one poet who makes money."
"T. S. Eliot," ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen said in his mail-sorting cubicle
at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters, and slammed down the
telephone without identifying himself.
Colonel Cargill, in Rome, was perplexed.
"Who was it?" asked General Peckem.
"I don't know", Colonel Cargill replied.
"What did he want?"
"I don't know."
"Well, what did he say?"
"'T. S. Eliot,'" Colonel Cargill informed him.
"What's that?"
"'T. S. Eliot,'" Colonel Cargill repeated.
"Just 'T. S.-'"
"Yes, sir. That's all he said. Just 'T. S. Eliot.-'"
"I wonder what it means," General Peckem reflected.
Colonel Cargill wondered, too.
"T. S. Eliot," General Peckem mused.
"T. S. Eliot," Colonel Cargill echoed with the same funereal puzzlement.
General Peckem roused himself after a moment with an unctuous
and benignant smile. His expression was shrewd and sophisticated. His
eyes gleamed maliciously. "Have someone get me General Dreedle,"
he requested Colonel Cargill. "Don't let him know who's calling."
Colonel Cargill handed him the phone.
"T. S. Eliot," General Peckem said, and hung up.
"Who was it?" asked Colonel Moodus.
General Dreedle, in Corsica, did not reply. Colonel Moodus was
General Dreedle's son-in-law, and General Dreedle, at the insistence
of his wife and against his own better judgment, had taken him into the
military business. General Dreedle gazed at Colonel Moodus with
level hatred. He detested the very sight of his son-in-law, who was his
aide and therefore in constant attendance upon him. He had opposed
his daughter's marriage to Colonel Moodus because he disliked attending
weddings. Wearing a menacing and preoccupied scowl, General
Dreedle moved to the full-length mirror in his office and stared at his
stocky reflection. He had a grizzled, broad-browed head with iron-gray
tufts over his eyes and a blunt and belligerent jaw. He brooded in
ponderous speculation over the cryptic message he had just received.
Slowly his face softened with an idea, and he curled his lips with wicked
"Get Peckem," he told Colonel Moodus. "Don't let the bastard
know who's calling."
"Who was it?" asked Colonel Cargill, back in Rome.
"That same person," General Peckem replied with a definite trace
of alarm. "Now he's after me."
"What did he want?"
"I don't know."
"What did he say?"
"The same thing."
'''T. S. Eliot'?"
"Yes, 'T. S. Eliot.' That's all he said." General Peckem had a hopeful
thought. "Perhaps it's a new code or something, like the colors of
the day. Why don't you have someone check with Communications
and see if it's a new code or something or the colors of the day?"
Communications answered that T. S. Eliot was not a new code or
the colors of the day.
Colonel Cargill had the next idea. "Maybe I ought to phone
Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters and see if they know anything
about it. They have a clerk up there named Wintergreen I'm pretty
close to. He's the one who tipped me off that our prose was too prolix."
Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen told Colonel Cargill that there was no
record at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters of a T. S. Eliot.
"How's our prose these days?" Colonel Cargill decided to inquire
while he had ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen on the phone. "It's much better
now, isn't it?"
"It's still too prolix," ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied.
"It wouldn't surprise me if General Dreedle were behind the whole
thing," General Peckem confessed at last. "Remember what he did to
that skeet-shooting range?"
General Dreedle had thrown open Colonel Cathcart's private skeet-shooting
range to every officer and enlisted man in the group on combat
duty. General Dreedle wanted his men to spend as much time out
on the skeet-shooting range as the facilities and their flight schedule
would allow. Shooting skeet eight hours a month was excellent training
for them. It trained them to shoot skeet.
Dunbar loved shooting skeet because he hated every minute of it
and the time passed so slowly. He had figured out that a single hour on
the skeet-shooting range with people like Havermeyer and Appleby
could be worth as much as eleven-times-seventeen years.
"I think you're crazy," was the way Clevinger had responded to
Dunbar's discovery.
"Who wants to know?" Dunbar answered.
"I mean it," Clevinger insisted.
"Who cares?" Dunbar answered.
"I really do. I'll even go so far as to concede that life seems longer i-"
"-is longer i-"
"-is longer-Is longer? All right, is longer if it's filled with periods
of boredom and discomfort, b-"
"Guess how fast?" Dunbar said suddenly.
"They go," Dunbar explained.
"Years," said Dunbar. "Years, years, years."
"Clevinger, why don't you let Dunbar alone?" Yossarian broke in.
"Don't you realize the toll this is taking?"
"It's all right," said Dunbar magnanimously. "I have some decades
to spare. Do you know how long a year takes when it's going away?"
"And you shut up also," Yossarian told Orr, who had begun to snigger.
"I was just thinking about that girl," Orr said. "That girl in Sicily.
That girl in Sicily with the bald head."
"You'd better shut up also," Yossarian warned him.
"It's your fault," Dunbar said to Yossarian. "Why don't you let him
snigger if he wants to? It's better than having him talking."
"All right. Go ahead and snigger if you want to."
"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
"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 time
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
"I do," Dunbar told him.
"Why?" Clevinger asked.
"What else is there?"

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:03 pm
by admin
5. Chief White Halfoat

Doc Daneeka lived in a splotched gray tent with Chief White Halfoat,
whom he feared and despised.
"I can just picture his liver," Doc Daneeka grumbled.
"Picture my liver," Yossarian advised him.
"There's nothing wrong with your liver."
"That shows how much you don't know," Yossarian bluffed, and told
Doc Daneeka about the troublesome pain in his liver that had troubled
Nurse Duckett and Nurse Cramer and all the doctors in the hospital
because it wouldn't become jaundice and wouldn't go away.
Doc Daneeka wasn't interested. "You think you've got troubles?" he
wanted to know. "What about me? You should've been in my office the
day those newlyweds walked in."
"What newlyweds?"
"Those newlyweds that walked into my office one day. Didn't I ever
tell you about them? She was lovely."
So was Doc Daneeka's office. He had decorated his waiting room
with goldfish and one of the finest suites of cheap furniture. Whatever
he could he bought on credit, even the goldfish. For the rest, he
obtained money from greedy relatives in exchange for shares of the
profits. His office was in Staten Island in a two-family firetrap just four
blocks away from the ferry stop and only one block south of a supermarket,
three beauty parlors, and two corrupt druggists. It was a corner
location, but nothing helped. Population turnover was small, and
people clung through habit to the same physicians they had been doing
business with for years. Bills piled up rapidly, and he was soon faced
with the loss of his most precious medical instruments: his adding
machine was repossessed, and then his typewriter. The goldfish died.
Fortunately, just when things were blackest, the war broke out.
"It was a godsend," Doc Daneeka confessed solemnly. "Most of the
other doctors were soon in the service, and things picked up overnight.
The corner location really started paying off, and I soon found myself
handling more patients than I could handle competently. I upped my
kickback fee with those two drugstores. The beauty parlors were good
for two, three abortions a week. Things couldn't have been better, and
then look what happened. They had to send a guy from the draft board
around to look me over. I was Four- F. I had examined myself pretty
thoroughly and discovered that I was unfit for military service. You'd
think my word would be enough, wouldn't you, since I was a doctor in
good standing with my county medical society and with my local
Better Business Bureau. But no, it wasn't, and they sent this guy around
just to make sure I really did have one leg amputated at the hip and was
helplessly bedridden with incurable rheumatoid arthritis. Yossarian, we
live in an age of distrust and deteriorating spiritual values. It's a terrible
thing," Doc Daneeka protested in a voice quavering with strong
emotion. "It's a terrible thing when even the word of a licensed physician
is suspected by the country he loves."
Doc Daneeka had been drafted and shipped to Pianosa as a flight
surgeon, even though he was terrified of flying.
"I don't have to go looking for trouble in an airplane," he noted,
blinking his beady, brown, offended eyes myopically. "It comes looking
for me. Like that virgin I'm telling you about that couldn't have a
"What virgin?" Yossarian asked. "I thought you were telling me
about some newlyweds."
"That's the virgin I'm telling you about. They were just a couple of
young kids, and they'd been married, oh, a little over a year when they
came walking into my office without an appointment. You should have
seen her. She was so sweet and young and pretty. She even blushed
when I asked about her periods. I don't think I'll ever stop loving that
girl. She was built like a dream and wore a chain around her neck with
a medal of Saint Anthony hanging down inside the most beautiful
bosom I never saw. 'It must be a terrible temptation for Saint Anthony,'
I joked-just to put her at ease, you know. 'Saint Anthony?' her husband
said. 'Who's Saint Anthony?' 'Ask your wife,' I told him. 'She can
tell you who Saint Anthony is.' 'Who is Saint Anthony?' he asked her.
'Who?' she wanted to know. 'Saint Anthony,' he told her. 'Saint
Anthony?' she said. 'Who's Saint Anthony?' When I got a good look at
her inside my examination room I found she was still a virgin. I spoke
to her husband alone while she was pulling her girdle back on and
hooking it onto her stockings. 'Every night,' he boasted. A real wise guy,
you know. 'I never miss a night,' he boasted. He meant it, too., 'I even
been puttin' it to her mornings before the breakfasts she makes me
before we go to work,' he boasted. There was only one explanation.
When I had them both together again I gave them a demonstration of
intercourse with the rubber models I've got in my office. I've got these
rubber models in my office with all the reproductive organs of both
sexes that I keep locked up in separate cabinets to avoid a scandal. I
mean I used to have them. I don't have anything any more, not even a
practice. The only thing I have now is this low temperature that I'm
really starting to worry about. Those two kids I've got working for me
in the medical tent aren't worth a damn as diagnosticians. All they know
how to do is complain. They think they've got troubles? What about
me? They should have been in my office that day with those two newlyweds
looking at me as though I were telling them something
nobody'd ever heard of before. You never saw anybody so interested.
'You mean like this?' he asked me, and worked the models for himself
awhile. You know, I can see where a certain type of person might get a
big kick out of doing just that. 'That's it,' I told him. 'Now, you go home
and try it my way for a few months and see what happens. Okay?'
'Okay,' they said, and paid me in cash without any argument. 'Have a
good time,' I told them, and they thanked me and walked out together.
He had his arm around her waist as though he couldn't wait to get her
home and put it to her again. A few days later he came back all by himself
and told my nurse he had to see me right away. As soon as we were
alone, he punched me in the nose."
"He did what?"
"He called me a wise guy and punched me in the nose. 'What are
you, a wise guy?' he said, and knocked me flat on my ass. Pow! Just like
that. I'm not kidding."
"I know you're not kidding," Yossarian said. "But why did he do it?"
"How should I know why he did it?" Doc Daneeka retorted with
"Maybe it had something to do with Saint Anthony?"
Doc Daneeka looked at Yossarian blankly. "Saint Anthony?" he
asked with astonishment. "Who's Saint Anthony?"
"How should I know?" answered Chief White Halfoat, staggering
inside the tent just then with a bottle of whiskey cradled in his arm and
sitting himself down pugnaciously between the two of them.
Doc Daneeka rose without a word and moved his chair outside the
tent, his back bowed by the compact kit of injustices that was his perpetual
burden. He could not bear the company of his roommate.
Chief White Halfoat thought he was crazy. "I don't know what's the
matter with that guy," he observed reproachfully. "He's got no brains,
that's what's the matter with him. If he had any brains he'd grab a shovel
and start digging. Right here in the tent, he'd start digging, right
under my cot. He'd strike oil in no time. Don't he know how that
enlisted man struck oil with a shovel back in the States? Didn't he ever
hear what happened to that kid-what was the name of that rotten rat
bastard pimp of a snotnose back in Colorado?"
"Wintergreen. "
"Wintergreen. "
"He's afraid," Yossarian explained.
"Oh, no. Not Wintergreen." Chief White Halfoat shook his head
with undisguised admiration. "That stinking little punk wise-guy son
of a bitch ain't afraid of nobody."
"Doc Daneeka's afraid. That's what's the matter with him."
"What's he afraid of?"
"He's afraid of you," Yossarian said. "He's afraid you're going to die
of pneumonia."
"He'd better be afraid," Chief White Halfoat said. A deep, low laugh
tumbled through his massive chest. "I will, too, the first chance I get.
You just wait and see."
Chief White Halfoat was a handsome, swarthy Indian from Oklahoma
with a heavy, hard-boned face and tousled black hair, a halfblooded
Creek from Enid who, for occult reasons of his own, had
made up his mind to die of pneumonia. He was a glowering, vengeful,
disillusioned Indian who hated foreigners with names like Cathcart,
Korn, Black and Havermeyer and wished they'd all go back to where
their lousy ancestors had come from.
"You wouldn't believe it, Yossarian," he ruminated, raising his voice
deliberately to bait Doc Daneeka, "but this used to be a pretty good
country to live in before they loused it up with their goddam piety."
Chief White Halfoat was out to revenge himself upon the white
man. He could barely read or write and had been assigned to Captain
Black as assistant intelligence officer.
"How could I learn to read or write?" Chief White Halfoat demanded
with simulated belligerence, raising his voice again so that
Doc Daneeka would hear. "Every place we pitched our tent, they sank
an oil well. Every time they sank a well, they hit oil. And every time
they hit oil, they made us pack up our tent and go someplace else. We
were human divining rods. Our whole family had a natural affinity for
petroleum deposits, and soon every oil company in the world had technicians chasing us around. We. were always on the move. It was one
hell of a way to bring a child up, I can tell you. I don't think I ever spent
more than a week in one place."
His earliest memory was of a geologist.
"Every time another White Halfoat was born," he continued, "the
stock market turned bullish. Soon whole drilling crews were following
us around with all their equipment just to get the jump on each other.
Companies began to merge just so they could cut down on the number
of people they had to assign to us. But the crowd in back of us kept
growing. We never got a good night's sleep. When we stopped, they
stopped. When we moved, they moved, chuckwagons, bulldozers, derricks,
generators. We were a walking business boom, and we began to
receive invitations from some of the best hotels just for the amount of
business we would drag into town with us. Some of those invitations
were mighty generous, but we couldn't accept any because we were
Indians and all the best hotels that were inviting us wouldn't accept
Indians as guests. Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It really
is. It's a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigger, kike,
wop or spic." Chief White Halfoat nodded slowly with conviction.
"Then, Yossarian, it finally happened-the beginning of the end.
They began to follow us around from in front. They would try to guess
where we were going to stop next and would begin drilling before we
even got there, so we couldn't even stop. As soon as we'd begin to
unroll our blankets, they would kick us off. They had confidence in us.
They wouldn't even wait to strike oil before they kicked us off. We
were so tired we almost didn't care the day our time ran out. One
morning we found ourselves completely surrounded by oilmen waiting
for us to come their way so they could kick us off. Everywhere you
looked there was an oilman on a ridge, waiting there like Indians getting
ready to attack. It was the end. We couldn't stay where we were
because we had just been kicked off. And there was no place left for us
to go. Only the Army saved me. Luckily, the war broke out just in the
nick of time, and a draft board picked me right up out of the middle
and put me down safely in Lowery Field, Colorado. I was the only survivor."
Yossarian knew he was lying, but did not interrupt as Chief White
Halfoat went on to claim that he had never heard from his parents
again. That didn't bother him too much, though, for he had only their
word for it that they were his parents, and since they had lied to him
about so many other things, they could just as well have. been lying to
him about that too. He was much better acquainted with the fate of a
tribe of first cousins who had wandered away north in a diversionary
movement and pushed inadvertently into Canada. When they tried to
return, they were stopped at the border by American immigration
authorities who would not let them back into the country. They could
not come back in because they were red.
It was a horrible joke, but Doc Daneeka didn't laugh until Yossarian
came to him one mission later and pleaded again, without any real
expectation of success, to be grounded. Doc Daneeka snickered once
and was soon immersed in problems of his own, which included Chief
White Halfoat, who had been challenging him all that morning to
Indian wrestle, and Yossarian, who decided right then and there to go
"You're wasting your time," Doc Daneeka was forced to tell him.
"Can't you ground someone who's crazy?"
"Oh, sure. I have to. There's a rule saying I have to ground anyone
who's crazy."
"Then why don't you ground me? I'm crazy. Ask Clevinger."
"Clevinger? Where is Clevinger? You find Clevinger and I'll ask
"Then ask any of the others. They'll tell you how crazy I am."
"They're crazy."
"Then why don't you ground them?"
"Why don't they ask me to ground them?"
"Because they're crazy, that's why."
"Of course they're crazy," Doc Daneeka replied. "I just told you
they're crazy, didn't I? And you can't let crazy people decide whether
you're crazy or not, can you?"
Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. "Is Orr
"He sure is," Doc Daneeka said.
"Can you ground him?"
"I sure can. But first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule."
"Then why doesn't he ask you to?"
"Because he's crazy," Doc Daneeka said. "He has to be crazy to keep
flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure, I can
ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to."
"That's all he has to do to be grounded?"
"That's all. Let him ask me."
"And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked.
"No. Then I can't ground him."
"You mean there's a catch?"
"Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone
who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."
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.
Yossarian saw it clearly in all its spinning reasonableness. There was
an elliptical precision about its perfect pairs of parts that was graceful
and shocking, like good modern art, and at times Yossarian wasn't quite
sure that he saw it all, just the way he was never quite sure about good
modern art or about the flies Orr saw in Appleby's eyes. He had Orr's
word to take for the flies in Appleby's eyes.
"Oh, they're there, all right," Ocr had assured him about the flies in
Appleby's eyes after Yossarian's fist fight with Appleby in the officers'
club, "although he probably doesn't even know it. That's why he can't
see things as they really are."
"How come he doesn't know it?" inquired Yossarian.
"Because he's got flies in his eyes," Ocr explained with exaggerated
patience. "How can he see he's got flies in his eyes if he's got flies in his
It made as much sense as anything else, and Yossarian was willing to
give Ocr the benefit of the doubt because Orr was from the wilderness
outside New York City and knew so much more about wildlife than
Yossarian did, and because Orr, unlike Yossarian's mother, father, sister,
brother, aunt, uncle, in-law, teacher, spiritual leader, legislator,
neighbor and newspaper, had never lied to him about anything crucial
before. Yossarian had mulled his newfound knowledge about Appleby
over in private for a day or two and then decided, as a good deed, to
pass the word along to Appleby himself.
"Appleby, you've got flies in your eyes," he whispered helpfully as
they passed by each other in the doorway of the parachute tent on the
day of the weekly milk run to Parma.
"What?" Appleby responded sharply, thrown into confusion by the
fact that Yossarian had spoken to him at all.
"You've got flies in your eyes," Yossarian repeated. "That's probably
why you can't see them."
Appleby retreated from Yossarian with a look of loathing bewilderment
and sulked in silence until he was in the jeep with Havermeyer
riding down the long, straight road to the briefing room, where Major
Danby, the fidgeting group operations officer, was waiting to conduct
the preliminary briefing with all the lead pilots, bombardiers and navigators.
Appleby spoke in a soft voice so that he would not be heard by
the driver or by Captain Black, who was stretched out with his eyes
closed in the front seat of the jeep.
"Havermeyer," he asked hesitantly. "Have I got flies in my eyes?"
Havermeyer blinked quizzically. "Sties?" he asked.
"No, flies," he was told.
Havermeyer blinked again. "Flies?"
"In my eyes."
"You must be crazy," Havermeyer said.
"No, I'm not crazy. Yossarian's crazy. Just tell me if I've got flies in
my eyes or not. Go ahead. I can take it."
Havermeyer popped another piece of peanut brittle into his mouth
and peered very closely into Appleby's eyes.
"I don't see any," he announced.
Appleby heaved an immense sigh of relief. Havermeyer had tiny bits
of peanut brittle adhering to his lips, chin and cheeks.
"You've got peanut brittle crumbs on your face," Appleby remarked
to him.
"I'd rather have peanut brittle crumbs on my face than flies in my
eyes," Havermeyer retorted.
The officers of the other five planes in each flight arrived in trucks
for the general briefing that took place thirty minutes later. The three
enlisted men in each crew were not briefed at all, but were carried
directly out on the airfield to the separate planes in which they were
scheduled to fly that day, where they waited around with the ground
crew until the officers with whom they had been scheduled to fly
swung off the rattling tailgates of the trucks delivering them and it was
time to climb aboard and start up. Engines rolled over disgruntledly on
lollipop-shaped hardstands, resisting first, then idling smoothly awhile,
and then the planes lumbered around and nosed forward lamely over
the pebbled ground like sightless, stupid, crippled things until they taxied
into the line at the foot of the landing strip and took off swiftly, one
behind the other, in a zooming, rising roar, banking slowly into formation
over mottled treetops, and circling the field at even speed until
all the flights of six had been formed and then setting course over
cerulean water on the first leg of the journey to the target in northern
Italy or France. The planes gained altitude steadily and were above
nine thousand feet by the time they crossed into enemy territory. One
of the surprising things always was the sense of calm and utter silence,
broken only by the test rounds fired from the machine guns, by an
occasional toneless, terse remark over the intercom, and, at last, by the
sobering pronouncement of the bombardier in each plane that they
were at the J.P. and about to turn toward the target. There was always
sunshine, always a tiny sticking in the throat from the rarefied air.
The B-25s they flew in were stable, dependable, dull-green .ships
with twin rudders and engines and wide wings. Their single fault, from
where Yossarian sat as a bombardier, was the tight crawlway separating
the bombardier's compartment in the Plexiglas nose from the nearest
escape hatch. The crawlway was a narrow, square, cold tunnel hollowed
out beneath the flight controls, and a large man like Yossarian
could squeeze through only with difficulty. A chubby, moon-faced navigator
with little reptilian eyes and a pipe like Aarfy's had trouble, too,
and Yossarian used to chase him. back from the nose as they turned
toward the target, now minutes away. There was a time of tension
then, a time of waiting with nothing to hear and nothing to see and
nothing to do but wait as the antiaircraft guns below took aim and
made ready to knock them all sprawling into infinite sleep if they
The crawlway was Yossarian's lifeline to outside from a plane about
to fall, but Yossarian swore at it with seething antagonism, reviled it as
an obstacle put there by providence as part of the plot that would
destroy him. There was room for an additional escape hatch right
there in the nose of a B-25, but there was no escape hatch. Instead
there was the crawlway, and since the mess on the mission over Avignon
he had learned to detest every mammoth inch of it, for it slung
him seconds and seconds away from his parachute, which was too
bulky to be taken up front with him, and seconds and seconds more
after that away from the escape hatch on the floor between the rear of
the elevated flight deck and the feet of the faceless top turret gunner
mounted high above. Yossarian longed to be where Aarfy could be
once Yossarian had chased him back from the nose; Yossarian longed
to sit on the floor in a huddled ball right on top of the escape hatch
inside a sheltering igloo of extra flak suits that he would have been
happy to carry along with him, his parachute already hooked to his
harness where it belonged, one fist clenching the red-handled rip
cord, one fist gripping the emergency hatch release that would spill
him earthward into air at the first dreadful squeal of destruction. That
was where he wanted to be if he had to be there at all, instead of hung
out there in front like some goddam cantilevered goldfish in some
goddam cantilevered goldfish bowl while the goddam foul black tiers
of flak were bursting and booming and billowing all around and above
and below him in a climbing, cracking, staggered, banging, phantasmagorical,
cosmological wickedness that jarred and tossed and shivered,
clattered and pierced, and threatened to annihilate them all in
one splinter of a second in one vast flash of fire.
Aarfy had been no use to Yossarian as a navigator or as anything
else, and Yossarian drove him back from the nose vehemently each
time so that they would not clutter up each other's way if they had to
scramble suddenly for safety. Once Yossarian had driven him back
from the nose, Aarfy was free to cower on the floor where Yossarian
longed to cower, but he stood bolt upright instead with his stumpy
arms resting comfortably on the backs of the pilot's and co-pilot's
seats, pipe in hand, making affable small talk to McWatt and whoever
happened to be co-pilot and pointing out amusing trivia in the sky to
the two men, who were too busy to be interested. McWatt was too
busy responding at the controls to Yossarian's strident instructions as
Yossarian slipped the plane in on the bomb run and then whipped
them all away violently around the ravenous pillars of exploding shells
with curt, shrill, obscene commands to McWatt that were much like
the anguished, entreating nightmare yelpings of Hungry Joe in the
dark. Aarfy would puff reflectively on his pipe throughout the whole
chaotic clash, gazing with unruffled curiosity at the war through
McWatt's window as though it were a remote disturbance that could
not affect him. Aarfy was a dedicated fraternity man who loved cheerleading
and class reunions and did not have brains enough to be afraid.
Yossarian did have brains enough and was, and the only thing that
stopped him from abandoning his post under fire and scurrying back
through the crawlway like a yellow-bellied rat was his unwillingness to
entrust the evasive action out of the target area to anybody else. There
was nobody else in the world he would honor with so great a responsibility.
There was nobody else he knew who was as big a coward.
Yossarian was the best man in the group at evasive action, but had no
idea why.
There was no established procedure for evasive action. All you
needed was fear, and Yossarian had plenty of that, more fear than Orr
or Hungry Joe, more fear even than Dunbar, who had resigned himself
submissively to the idea that he must die someday. Yossarian had
not resigned himself to that idea, and he bolted for his life wildly on
each mission the instant his bombs were away, hollering, "Hard, hard,
hard, hard, you bastard, hard!" at McWatt and hating McWatt viciously
all the time as though McWatt were to blame for their being up there
at all to be rubbed out by strangers, and everybody else in the plane
kept off the intercom, except for the pitiful time of the mess on the
mission to Avignon when Dobbs went crazy in mid-air and began
weeping pathetically for help.
"Help him, help him," Dobbs sobbed. "Help him, help him."
"Help who? Help who?" called back Yossarian, once he had plugged
his headset back into the intercom system, after it had been jerked out
when Dobbs wrested the controls away from Huple and hurled them
all down suddenly into the deafening, paralyzing, horrifying dive
which had plastered Yossarian helplessly to the ceiling of the plane by
the top of his head and from which Huple had rescued them just in
time by seizing the controls back from Dobbs and leveling the ship out
almost as suddenly right back in the middle of the buffeting layer of
cacophonous flak from which they had escaped successfully only a
moment before. Oh, God! Oh, God, oh, God, Yossarian had been pleading
wordlessly as he dangled from the ceiling of the nose of the ship by
the top of his head, unable to move.
"The bombardier, the bombardier," Dobbs answered in a cry when
Yossarian spoke. "He doesn't answer, he doesn't answer. Help the bombardier,
help the bombardier."
"I'm the bombardier," Yossarian cried back at him. "I'm the bombardier.
I'm all right. I'm all right."
"Then help him, help him," Dobbs begged. "Help him, help him."
And Snowden lay dying in back.

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:04 pm
by admin
6. Hungry Joe

Hungry Joe did have fifty missions, but they were no help. He had his
bags packed and was waiting again to go home. At night he had eerie,
ear-splitting nightmares that kept everyone in the squadron awake but
Huple, the fifteen-year-old pilot who had lied about his age to get into
the Army and lived with his pet cat in the same tent with Hungry Joe.
Huple was a light sleeper, but claimed he never heard Hungry Joe
scream. Hungry Joe was sick.
"So what?" Doc Daneeka snarled resentfully. "I had it made, I tell
you. Fifty grand a year I was knocking down, and almost all of it tax-free,
since I made my customers pay me in cash. I had the strongest
trade association in the world backing me up. And look what happened.
Just when I was all set to really start stashing it away, they had
to manufacture fascism and start a war horrible enough to affect even
me. I gotta laugh when I hear someone like Hungry Joe screaming his
brains out every night. I really gotta laugh. He's sick? How does he
think I feel?"
Hungry Joe was too firmly embedded in calamities of his own to
care how Doc Daneeka felt. There were the noises, for instance. Small
ones enraged him and he hollered himself hoarse at Aarfy for the wet,
sucking sounds he made puffing on his pipe, at Orr for tinkering, at
McWatt for the explosive snap he gave each card he turned over when
he dealt at blackjack or poker, at Dobbs for letting his teeth chatter as
he went blundering clumsily about bumping into things. Hungry Joe
was a throbbing, ragged mass of motile irritability. The steady ticking
of a watch in a quiet room crashed like torture against his unshielded
"Listen, kid," he explained harshly to Huple very late one evening,
"if you want to live in this tent, you've got to do like I do. You've got
to roll your wrist watch up in a pair of wool socks every night and keep
it on the bottom of your foot locker on the other side of the room."
Huple thrust his jaw out defiantly to let Hungry Joe know he
couldn't be pushed around and then did exactly as he had been told.
Hungry Joe was a jumpy, emaciated wretch with a fleshless face of
dingy skin and bone and twitching veins squirming subcutaneously in
the blackened hollows behind his eyes like severed sections of snake. It
was a desolate, cratered face, sooty with care like an abandoned mining
town. Hungry Joe ate voraciously, gnawed incessantly at the tips of
his fingers, stammered, choked, itched, sweated, salivated, and sprang
from spot to spot fanatically with an intricate black camera with which
he was always trying to take pictures of naked girls. They never came
out. He was always forgetting to put film in the camera Qr turn on
lights or remove the cover from the lens opening. It wasn't easy persuading
naked girls to pose, but Hungry Joe had the knack.
"Me big man," he would shout. "Me big photographer from Life
magazine. Big picture on heap big cover. Si, si, si! Hollywood star.
Multi dinero. Multi divorces. Multi ficky-fick all day long."
Few women anywhere could resist such wily cajolery, and prostitutes
would spring to their feet eagerly and hurl themselves into whatever
fantastic poses he requested of them. Women killed Hungry Joe.
His response to them as sexual beings was one of frenzied worship and
idolatry. They were lovely, satisfying, maddening manifestations of the
miraculous, instruments of pleasure too powerful to be measured, too
keen to be endured, and too exquisite to be intended for employment
by base, unworthy man. He could interpret their naked presence in his
hands only as a cosmic oversight destined to be rectified speedily, and
he was driven always to make what carnal use of them he could in the
fleeting moment or two he felt he had before Someone caught-wise
and whisked them away. He could never decide whether to furgle them
or photograph them, for he had found it impossible to do both simultaneously.
In fact, he was finding it almost impossible to do either, so
scrambled were his powers of performance by the compulsive need for
haste that invariably possessed him. The pictures never came out, and
Hungry Joe never got in. The odd thing was that in civilian life
Hungry Joe really had been a photographer for Life magazine.
He was a hero now, the biggest hero the Air Force had, Yossarian
felt, for he had flown more combat tours of duty than any other hero
the Air Force had. He had flown six combat tours of duty. Hungry Joe
had finished flying his first combat tour of duty when twenty-five missions
were all that were necessary for him to pack his bags, write happy
letters home and begin hounding Sergeant Towser humorously for the
arrival of the orders rotating him back to the States. While he waited,
he spent each day shuffling rhythmically around the entrance of the
operations tent, making boisterous wisecracks to everybody who came
by and jocosely calling Sergeant Towser a lousy son of a bitch every
time Sergeant Towser popped out of the orderly room.
Hungry Joe had finished flying his first twenty-five missions during
the week of the Salerno beachhead, when Yossarian was laid up in the
hospital with a burst of clap he had caught on a low-level mission over
a Wac in bushes on a supply flight to Marrakech. Yossarian did his best
to catch up with Hungry Joe and almost did, flying six missions in six
days, but his twenty-third mission was to Arezzo, where Colonel Nevers
was killed, and that was as close as he had ever been able to come
to going home. The next day Colonel Cathcart was there, brimming
with tough pride in his new outfit and celebrating his assumption of
command by raising the number of missions required from twenty-five
to thirty. Hungry Joe unpacked his bags and rewrote the happy letters
home. He stopped hounding Sergeant Towser humorously. He began
hating Sergeant Towser, focusing all blame upon him venomously,
even though he knew Sergeant Towser had nothing to do with the
arrival of Colonel Cathcart or the delay in the processing of shipping
orders that might have rescued him seven days earlier and five times
Hungry Joe could no longer stand the strain of waiting for shipping
orders and crumbled promptly into ruin every time he finished another
tour of duty. Each time he was taken off combat status, he gave a big
party for the little circle of friends he had. He broke out the bottles of
bourbon he had managed to buy on his four-day weekly circuits with
the courier plane and laughed, sang, shuffled and shouted in a festival
of inebriated ecstasy until he could no longer keep awake and receded
peacefully into slumber. As soon as Yossarian, Nately and Dunbar put
him to bed he began screaming in his sleep. In the morning he stepped
from his tent looking haggard, fearful and guilt-ridden, an eaten shell
of a human building rocking perilously on the brink of collapse.
The nightmares appeared to Hungry Joe with celestial punctuality
every single night he spent in the squadron throughout the whole harrowing
ordeal when he was not flying combat missions and was waiting
once again for the orders sending him home that never came.
Impressionable men in the squadron like Dobbs and Captain Flume
were so deeply disturbed by Hungry Joe's shrieking nightmares that
they would begin to have shrieking nightmares of their own, and the
piercing obscenities they flung into the air every night from their separate
places in the squadron rang against each other in the darkness
romantically like the mating calls of songbirds with filthy minds.
Colonel Korn acted decisively to arrest what seemed to him to be the
beginning of an unwholesome trend in Major Major's squadron. The
solution he provided was to have Hungry Joe fly the courier ship once
a week, removing him from the squadron for four nights, and the remedy,
like all Colonel Korn's remedies, was successful.
Every time Colonel Cathcart increased the number of missions and
returned Hungry Joe to combat duty, the nightmares stopped and
Hungry Joe settled down into a normal state of terror with a smile of
relief. Yossarian read Hungry Joe's shrunken face like a headline. It was
good when Hungry Joe looked bad and terrible when Hungry Joe
looked good. Hungry Joe's inverted set of responses was a curious phenomenon
to everyone but Hungry Joe, who denied the whole thing
"Who dreams?" he answered, when Yossarian asked him what he
dreamed about.
"Joe, why don't you go see Doc Daneeka?" Yossarian advised.
"Why should I go see Doc Daneeka? I'm not sick."
"What about your nightmares?"
"I don't have nightmares," Hungry Joe lied.
"Maybe he can do something about them."
"There's nothing wrong with nightmares," Hungry Joe answered.
"Everybody has nightmares."
Yossarian thought he had him. "Every night?" he asked.
"Why not every night?" Hungry Joe demanded.
And suddenly it all made sense. Why not every night, indeed? It
made sense to cry out in pain every night. It made more sense than
Appleby, who was a stickler for regulations and had ordered Kraft to
order Yossarian to take his Atabrine tablets on the flight overseas after
Yossarian and Appleby had stopped talking to each other. Hungry Joe
made more sense than Kraft, too, who was dead, dumped unceremoniously
into doom over Ferrara by an exploding engine after Yossarian
took his flight of six planes in over the target a second time. The group
had missed the bridge at Ferrara again for the seventh straight day
with the bombsight that could put bombs into a pickle barrel at forty
thousand feet, and one whole week had already passed since Colonel
Cathcart had volunteered to have his men destroy the bridge in
twenty-four hours. Kraft was a skinny, harmless kid from Pennsylvania
who wanted only to be liked, and was destined to be disappointed in
even so humble and degrading an ambition. Instead of being liked, he
was dead, a bleeding cinder on the barbarous pile whom nobody had
heard in those last precious moments while the plane with one wing
plummeted. He had lived innocuously for a little while and then had
gone down in flame over Ferrara on the seventh day, while God was
resting, when McWatt turned and Yossarian guided him in over the
target on a second bomb run because Aarfy was confused and Yossarian
had been unable to drop his bombs the first time.
"I guess we do have to go back again, don't we?" McWatt had said
somberly over the intercom.
"I guess we do," said Yossarian.
"Do we?" said McWatt.
"Oh, well," sang McWatt, "what the hell."
And back they had gone while the planes in the other flights circled
safely off in the distance and every crashing cannon in the Hermann
Goering Division below was busy crashing shells this time only at
Colonel Cathcart had courage and never hesitated to volunteer his
men for any target available. No target was too dangerous for his
group to attack, just as no shot was too difficult for Appleby to handle
on the Ping-Pong table. Appleby was a good pilot and a superhuman
Ping-Pong player with flies in his eyes who never lost a point. Twenty-one
serves were all it ever took for Appleby to disgrace another opponent.
His prowess on the Ping-Pong table was legendary, and Appleby
won every game he started until the night Orr got tipsy on gin and
juice and smashed open Appleby's forehead with his paddle after
Appleby has smashed back each of Orr's first five serves. Orr leaped on
top of the table after hurling his paddle and came sailing off the other
end in a running broad jump with both feet planted squarely in
Appleby's face. Pandemonium broke loose. It took almost a full minute
for Appleby to disentangle himself from Orr's flailing arms and legs
and grope his way to his feet, with Orr held off the ground before him
by the shirt front in one hand and his other arm drawn back in a fist to
smite him dead, and at that moment Yossarian stepped forward and
took Orr away from him. It was a night of surprises for Appleby, who
was as large as Yossarian and as strong and who swung at Yossarian as
hard as he could with a punch that flooded Chief White Halfoat with
such joyous excitement that he turned and busted Colonel Moodus in
the nose with a punch that filled General Dreedle with such mellow
gratification that he had Colonel Cathcart throw the chaplain out of
the officers' club and ordered Chief White Halfoat moved into Doc
Daneeka's tent, where he could be under a doctor's care twenty-four
hours a day and be kept in good enough physical condition to bust
Colonel Moodus in the nose again whenever General Dreedle wanted
him to. Sometimes General Dreedle made special trips down from
'Wing Headquarters with Colonel Moodus and his nurse just to have
Chief White Halfoat bust his son-in-law in the nose.
Chief White Halfoat would much rather have remained in the
trailer he shared with Captain Flume, the silent, haunted squadron
public-relations officer who spent most of each evening developing
the pictures he took during the day to be sent out with his publicity
releases. 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.
Each night after that, Captain Flume forced himself to keep awake
as long as possible. He was aided immeasurably by Hungry Joe's nightmares.
Listening so intently to Hungry Joe's maniacal howling night
after night, Captain Flume' grew to hate him and began wishing that
Chief White Halfoat would tiptoe up to his cot one night and slit his
throat open for him from ear to ear. Actually, Captain Flume slept like
a log most nights and merely dreamed he was awake. So convincing
were these dreams of lying awake that he awoke from them each morning
in complete exhaustion and fell right back to sleep.
Chief White Halfoat had grown almost fond of Captain Flume
since his amazing metamorphosis. Captain Flume had entered his bed
that night a buoyant extrovert and left it the next morning a brooding
introvert, and Chief White Halfoat proudly regarded the new Captain
Flume as his own creation. He had never intended to slit Captain
Flume's throat open for him from ear to ear. Threatening to do so was
merely his idea of a joke, like dying of pneumonia, busting Colonel
Moodus in the nose or challenging Doc Daneeka to Indian wrestle. All
Chief White Halfoat wanted to do when he staggered in drunk each
night was go right to sleep, and Hungry Joe often made that impossible.
Hungry Joe's nightmares gave Chief White Halfoat the heebiejeebies,
and he often wished that someone would tiptoe into Hungry
Joe's tent, lift Huple's cat off his face and slit his throat open for him
from ear to ear, so that everybody in the squadron but Captain Flume
could get a good night's sleep.
Even though Chief White Halfoat kept busting Colonel Moodus in
the nose for General Dreedle's benefit, he was still outside the pale.
Also outside the pale was Major Major, the squadron commander, who
had found that out the same time he found out that he was squadron
commander from Colonel Cathcart, who came blasting into the
squadron in,his hopped-up jeep the day after Major Duluth was killed
over Perugia. Colonel Cathcart slammed to a screeching stop inches
short of the railroad ditch separating the nose of his jeep from the lopsided
basketball court on the other side, from which Major Major was
eventually driven by the kicks and shoves and stones and punches of
the men who had almost become his friends.
"You're the new squadron commander," Colonel Cathcart had bellowed
across the ditch at him. "But don't think it means anything,
because it doesn't. All it means is that you're the new squadron commander."
And Colonel Cathcart had roared away as abruptly as he'd come,
whipping the jeep around with a vicious spinning of wheels that sent a
spray of fine grit blowing into Major Major's face. Major Major was
immobilized by the news. He stood speechless, lanky and gawking,
with a scuffed basketball in his long hands as the seeds of rancor sown
so swiftly by Colonel Cathcart took root in the soldiers around him
who had been playing basketball with him and who had let him come
as close to making friends with them as anyone had ever let him come
before. The whites of his moony eyes grew large and misty as his
mouth struggled yearningly and lost against the familiar, impregnable
loneliness drifting in around him again like suffocating fog.
Like all the other officers at Group Headquarters except Major
Danby, Colonel Cathcart was infused with the democratic spirit: he
believed that all men were created equal, and he therefore spurned all
men outside Group Headquarters with equal fervor. Nevertheless, he
believed in his men. As he told them frequently in the briefing room,
he believed they were at least ten missions better than any other outfit
and felt that any who did not share this confidence he had placed in
them could get the hell out. The only way they could get the hell out,
though, as Yossarian learned when he flew to visit ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen,
was by flying the extra ten missions.
"I still don't get it," Yossarian protested. "Is Doc Daneeka right or
isn't he?"
"How many did he say?"
"Daneeka was telling the truth," ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen admitted.
"Forty missions is all you have to fly as far as Twenty-seventh Air Force
Headquarters is concerned."
Yossarian was jubilant. "Then I can go home, right? I've got forty-eight."
"No, you can't go home," ex-P.F.C Wintergreen corrected him.
"Are you crazy or something?"
"Why not?"
"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 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 Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters
would really jump on you."
Yossarian slumped with disappointment; "Then I really do have to
fly the fifty missions, don't I?" he grieved.
"The fifty-five," Doc Daneeka corrected him.
"What fifty-five?"
"The fifty-five missions the colonel now wants all of you to fly."
Hungry Joe heaved a huge sigh of relief when he heard Doc
Daneeka and broke into a grin. Yossarian grabbed Hungry Joe by the
neck and made him fly them both right back to ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen.
"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.
Yossarian winced. Colonel Cathcart had raised him again.

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:04 pm
by admin
7. Mc Watt

Ordinarily, Yossarian's pilot was McWatt, who, shaving in loud red, dean
pajamas outside his tent each morning, was one of the odd, ironic, incomprehensible
things surrounding Yossarian. McWatt was the craziest combat
man of them all probably, because he was perfectly sane and still did
not mind the war. He was a short-legged, wide-shouldered, smiling
young soul who whistled bouncy show tunes continuously and turned
over cards with sharp snaps when he dealt at blackjack or poker until
Hungry Joe disintegrated into quaking despair finally beneath their
cumulative impact and began ranting at him to stop snapping the cards.
"You son of a bitch, you only do it because it hurts me," Hungry Joe
would yell furiously as Yossarian held him back soothingly with one
hand. "That's the only reason he does it, because he likes to hear me
scream-you goddam son of a bitch!"
McWatt crinkled his fine, freckled nose apologetically and vowed
not to snap the cards any more, but always forgot. McWatt wore fleecy
bedroom slippers with his red pajamas and slept between freshly
pressed colored bedsheets like the one Milo had retrieved half of for
him from the grinning thief with the sweet tooth in exchange for none
of the pitted dates Milo had borrowed from Yossarian. McWatt was
deeply impressed with Milo, who, to the amusement of Corporal
Snark, his mess sergeant, was already buying eggs for seven cents
apiece and selling them for five cents. But McWatt was never 'as
impressed with Milo as Milo had been with the letter Yossarian had
obtained for his liver from Doc Daneeka.
"What's this?" Milo had cried out in alarm when he came upon the
enormous corrugated carton filled with packages of dried fruit and
cans of fruit juices and desserts that two of the Italian laborers Major
-- de Coverley had kidnapped for his kitchen were about to carry off
to Yossarian's tent.
"This is Captain Yossarian, sir," said Corporal Snark with a superior
smirk. Corporal Snark was an intellectual snob who felt he was twenty
years ahead of his time and did not enjoy cooking down to the masses.
"He has a letter from Doc Daneeka entitling him to all the fruit and
fruit juices he wants."
"What's this?" cried out Yossarian as Milo went white and began to
"This is Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder, sir," said Corporal Snark
with a derisive wink. "One of our new pilots. He became mess officer
while you were in the hospital this last time."
"What's this?" cried out McWatt, late in the afternoon, as Milo
handed him half his bedsheet.
"It's half of the bedsheet that was stolen from your tent this morning,"
Milo explained with nervous ,self-satisfaction, his rusty mustache
twitching rapidly. "I'll bet you didn't even know it was stolen."
"Why should anyone want to steal a bedsheet?" Yossarian asked.
Milo grew flustered. "You don't understand," he protested.
And Yossarian also did not understand why Milo needed so desperately
to invest in the letter from Doc Daneeka, which came right to the
point. "Give Yossarian all the dried fruit and fruit juices he wants," Doc
Daneeka had written. "He says he has a liver condition."
"A letter like this," Milo mumbled despondently, "could ruin any
mess officer in the world." Milo had come to Yossarian's tent just to
read the letter again, following his carton of lost provisions across the
squadron like a mourner. "I have to give you as much as you ask for.
Why, the letter doesn't even say you have to eat all of it yourself."
"And it's a good thing it doesn't," Yossarian told him, "because I
never eat any of it. I have a liver condition."
"Oh, yes, I forgot," said Milo, in a voice lowered deferentially. "Is it
''Just bad enough," Yossarian answered cheerfully.
"I see," said Milo. "What does that mean?"
"It means that it couldn't be better ... "
"I don't think I understand."
"... without being worse. Now do you see?"
"Yes, now I see. But I still don't think I understand."
"Well, don't let it trouble you. Let it trouble me. You see, I don't
really have a liver condition. I've just got the symptoms. I have a
Garnett-Fleischaker syndrome."
"I see," said Milo. "And what is a Garnett-Fleischaker syndrome?"
"A liver condition."
"I see," said Milo, and began massaging his black eyebrows together
wearily with an expression of interior pain, as though waiting for some
stinging discomfort he was experiencing to go away. "In that case," he
continued finally, "I suppose you do have to be very careful about what
you eat, don't you?"
"Very careful indeed," Yossarian told him. "A good Garnett-
Fleischaker syndrome isn't easy to come by, and I don't want to ruin
mine. That's why I never eat any fruit."
"Now I do see," said Milo. "Fruit is bad for your liver?"
"No, fruit is good for my liver. That's why I never eat any."
"Then what do you do with it?" demanded Milo, plodding along
doggedly through his mounting confusion to fling out the question
burning on his lips. "Do you sell it?"
"I give it away."
"To who?" cried Milo, in a voice cracking with dismay.
"To anyone who wants it," Yossarian shouted back.
Milo let out a long, melancholy wail and staggered back, beads of
perspiration popping out suddenly all over his ashen face. He tugged
on his unfortunate mustache absently, his whole body trembling.
"I give a great deal of it to Dunbar," Yossarian went on.
"Dunbar?" Milo echoed numbly.
"Yes. Dunbar can eat all the fruit he wants and it won't do him a
damned bit of good. I just leave the carton right out there in the open
for anyone who wants any to come and help himself. Aarfy comes here
to get prunes because he says he never gets enough prunes in the mess
hall. You might look into that when you've got some time because it's
no fun having Aarfy hanging around here. Whenever the supply runs
low I just have Corporal Snark fill me up again. Nately always takes a
whole load of fruit along with him whenever he goes to Rome. He's in
love with a whore there who hates me and isn't at all interested in him.
She's got a kid sister who never leaves them alone in bed together, and
they live in an apartment with an old man and woman and a bunch of
other girls with nice fat thighs who are always kidding around also.
Nately brings them a whole cartonful every time he goes."
"Does he sell it to them?"
"No, he gives it to them."
Milo frowned. "Well, I suppose that's very generous of him," he
remarked with no enthusiasm.
"Yes, very generous," Yossarian agreed.
"And I'm sure it's perfectly legal," said Milo, "since the food is yours
once you get it from me. I suppose that with conditions as hard as they
are, these people are very glad to get it."
"Yes, very glad," Yossarian assured him. "The two girls sell it all on
the black market and use the money to buy flashy costume jewelry and
cheap perfume."
Milo perked up. "Costume jewelry!" he exclaimed. "I didn't know
that. How much are they paying for cheap perfume?"
"The old man uses his share to buy raw whiskey and dirty pictures.
He's a lecher."
"A lecher?"
"You'd be surprised."
"Is there much of a market in Rome for dirty pictures?" Milo asked.
"You'd be surprised. Take Aarfy, for instance. Knowing him, you'd
never suspect, would you?"
"That he's a lecher?"
"No, that he's a navigator. You know Captain Aardvaark, don't you?
He's that nice guy who came up to you your first day in the squadron
and said, 'Aardvaark's my name, and navigation is my game.' He wore
a pipe in his face and probably asked you what college you went to. Do
you know him?"
Milo was paying no attention. "Let me be your partner," he blurted
out imploringly.
Yossarian turned him down, even though he had no doubt that the
truckloads of fruit would be theirs to dispose of any way they saw fit
once Yossarian had requisitioned them from the mess hall with Doc
Daneeka's letter. Milo was crestfallen, but from that moment on he
trusted Yossarian with every secret but one, reasoning shrewdly that
anyone who would not steal from the country he loved would not steal
from anybody. Milo trusted Yossarian with every secret but the location
of the holes in the hills in which he began burying his money once
he returned from Smyrna with his planeload of figs and learned from
Yossarian that a C.I.D. man had come to the hospital. To Milo, who
had been gullible enough to volunteer for it, the position of mess officer
was a sacred trust.
"I didn't even realize we weren't serving enough prunes," he had
admitted that first day. "I suppose it's because I'm still so new. I'll raise
the question with my first chef."
Yossarian eyed him sharply. "What first chef?" he demanded. "You
don't have a first chef."
"Corporal Snark," Milo explained, looking away a little guiltily. "He's
the only chef! have, so he really is my first chef, although I hope to move
him over to the administrative side. Corporal Snark tends to be a little
too creative, I feel. He thinks being a mess sergeant is some sort of art
form and is always complaining about having to prostitute his talents.
Nobody is asking him to do any such thing! Incidentally, do you happen
to know why he was busted to private and is only a corporal now?"
"Yes," said Yossarian. "He poisoned the squadron."
Milo went pale again. "He did what?"
"He mashed hundreds of cakes of GI soap into the sweet potatoes
just to show that people have the taste of Philistines and don't know
the difference between good and bad. Every man in the squadron was
sick. Missions were canceled."
"Well!" Milo exclaimed, with thin-lipped disapproval. "He certainly
found out how wrong he was, didn't he?"
"On the contrary," Yossarian corrected. "He found out how right he
was. We packed it away by the plateful and clamored for more. We all
knew we were sick, but we had no idea we'd been poisoned."
Milo sniffed in consternation twice, like a shaggy brown hare. "In
that case, I certainly do want to get him over to the administrative side.
I don't want anything like that happening while I'm in charge. You
see," he confided earnestly, "what I hope to do is give the men in this
squadron the best meals in the whole world. That's really something to
shoot at, isn't it? If a mess officer aims at anything less, it seems to me,
he has no right being mess officer. Don't you agree?"
Yossarian turned slowly to gaze at Milo .with probing distrust. He
saw a simple, sincere face that was incapable of subtlety or guile, an
honest, frank face with disunited large eyes, rusty hair, black eyebrows
and an unfortunate reddish-brown mustache. Milo had a long, thin
nose with sniffing, damp nostrils heading sharply off to the right, always
pointing away from where the rest of him was looking. It was the face
of a man of hardened integrity who could no more consciously violate
the moral principles on which his virtue rested than he could transform
himself into a despicable toad. One of these moral principles was that it
was never a sin to charge as much as the traffic would bear. He was
capable of mighty paroxysms of righteous indignation, and he was
indignant as could be when he learned that a C.I.D. man was in the area
looking for him.
"He's not looking for you," Yossarian said, trying to placate him.
"He's looking for someone up in the hospital who's been signing
Washington Irving's name to the letters he's been censoring."
"I never signed Washington Irving's name to any letters," Milo
"Of course not."
"But that's just a trick to get me to confess I've been making money
in the black market." Milo hauled violently at a disheveled hunk of his
off-colored mustache. "I don't like guys like that. Always snooping
around people like us. Why doesn't the government get after ex-P.F.C.
Wintergreen, if it wants to do some good? He's got no respect for rules
and regulations and keeps cutting prices on me."
Milo's mustache was unfortunate because the separated halves never
matched. They were like Milo's disunited eyes, which never looked at
the same thing at the same time. Milo could see more things than most
people, but he could see none of them too distinctly. In contrast to his
reaction to news of the C.I.D. man, he learned with calm courage from
Yossarian that Colonel Cathcart had raised the number of missions to
"We're at war," he said. "And there's no use complaining about the
number of missions we have to fly. If the colonel says we have to fly
fifty-five missions, we have to fly them."
"Well, I don't have to fly them," Yossarian vowed. "I'll go see Major
"How can you? Major Major never sees anybody."
"Then I'll go back into the hospital."
"You just came out of the hospital ten days ago," Milo reminded him
reprovingly. "You can't keep running into the hospital every time
something happens you don't like. No, the best thing to do is fly the
missions. It's our duty."
Milo had rigid scruples that would not even allow him to borrow a
package of pitted dates from the mess hall that day of McWatt's stolen
bedsheet, for the food at the mess hall was all still the property of the
"But I can borrow it from you," he explained to Yossarian, "since all
this fruit is yours once you get it from me with Doctor Daneeka's letter.
You can do whatever you want with it, even sell it at a high profit
instead of giving it away free. Wouldn't you want to do that together?"
Milo gave up. "Then lend me one package of pitted dates," he
requested. "I'll give it back to you. I swear I will, and there'll be a little
something extra for you."
Milo proved good as his word and handed Yossarian a quarter of
McWatt's yellow bedsheet when he returned with the unopened package
of dates and with the grinning thief with the sweet tooth who had
stolen the bedsheet from McWatt's tent. The piece of bedsheet now
belonged to Yossarian. He had earned it while napping, although he
did not understand how. Neither did McWatt.
"What's this?" cried McWatt, staring in mystification at the ripped
half of his bedsheet.
"It's half of the bedsheet that was stolen from your tent this morning,"
Milo explained. "I'll bet you didn't even know it was stolen."
"Why should anyone want to steal half a bedsheet?" Yossarian
Milo grew flustered. "You don't understand," he protested. "He
stole the whole bedsheet, and I got it back with the package of pitted
dates you invested. That's why the quarter of the bedsheet is yours. You
made a very handsome return on your investment, particularly since
you've gotten back every pitted date you gave me." Milo next
addressed himself to McWatt. "Half the bedsheet is yours because it
was all yours to begin with, and I really don't understand what you're
complaining about, since you wouldn't have any of it if Captain
Yossarian and I hadn't intervened in your behalf."
"Who's complaining?" McWatt exclaimed. "I'm just trying to figure
out what I can do with half a bedsheet."
"There are lots of things you can do with half a bedsheet," Milo
assured him. "The remaining quarter of the bedsheet I've set aside for
myself as a reward for my enterprise, work and initiative. It's not for
myself, you understand, but for the syndicate. That's something you
might do with half the bedsheet. You can leave it in the syndicate and
watch it grow."
"What syndicate?"
"The syndicate I'd like to form someday so that I can give you men
the good food you deserve."
"You want to form a syndicate?"
"Yes, I do. No, a mart. Do you know what a mart is?"
"It's a place where you buy things, isn't it?"
"And sell things," corrected Milo.
"And sell things."
"All my life I've wanted a mart. You can do lots of things if you've
got a mart. But you've got to have a mart."
"You want a mart?"
"And every man will have a share."
Yossarian was still puzzled, for it was a business matter, and there
was much about business matters that always puzzled him.
"Let me try to explain it again," Milo offered with growing weariness
and exasperation, jerking his thumb toward the thief with the sweet
tooth, still grinning beside him. "I knew he wanted the dates more than
the bedsheet. Since he doesn't understand a word of English, I made it
a point to conduct the whole transaction in English."
"Why didn't you just hit him over the head and take the bedsheet
away from him?" Yossarian asked. .
Pressing his lips together with dignity, Milo shook his head. "That
would have been most unjust," he scolded firmly. "Force is wrong, and
two wrongs never make a right. It was much better my way. When I
held the dates out to him and reached for the bedsheet, he probably
thought I was offering to trade."
"What were you doing?"
"Actually, I was offering to trade, but since he doesn't understand
English, I can always deny it."
"Suppose he gets angry and wants the dates?"
"Why, we'll just hit him over the head and take them away from
him," Milo answered without hesitation. He looked from Yossarian to
McWatt and back again. "I really can't see what everyone is complaining
about. We're all much better off than before. Everybody is happy
but this thief, and there's no sense worrying about him, since he doesn't
even speak our language and deserves whatever he gets. Don't you
But Yossarian still didn't understand either how Milo could buy eggs
in Malta for seven cents apiece and sell them at a profit in Pianosa for
five cents.

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:04 pm
by admin
8. Lieutenant Seheisskopf

Not even Clevinger understood how Milo could do that, and Clevinger
knew everything. Clevinger knew everything about the war
except why Yossarian had to die while Corporal Snark was allowed to
live, or why Corporal Snark had to die while Yossarian was allowed to
live. It was a vile and muddy war, and Yossarian could have lived without
it-lived forever, perhaps. Only a fraction of his countrymen
would give up their lives to win it, and it was not his ambition to be
among them. 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 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 knew so much because Clevinger was a genius with a
pounding heart and blanching face. He was a gangling, gawky, feverish,
famish-eyed brain. As a Harvard undergraduate he had won prizes
in scholarship for just about everything, and the only reason he had not
won prizes in scholarship for everything else was that he was too busy
signing petitions, circulating petitions and challenging petitions, joining
discussion groups and resigning from discussion groups, attending
youth congresses, picketing other youth congresses and organizing
student committees in defense of dismissed faculty members. Everyone
agreed that Clevinger was certain to go far in the academic world.
In short, Clevinger was one of those people with lots of intelligence
and no brains, and everyone knew it except those who soon found
it out.
In short, he was a dope. He often looked to Yossarian like one of
those people hanging around modern museums with both eyes together
on one side of a face. It was an illusion, of course, generated by
Clevinger's predilection for staring fixedly at one side of a question and
never seeing the other side at all. Politically, he was a humanitarian
who did know right from left and was trapped uncomfortably between
the two. He was constantly defending his Communist friends to his
right-wing enemies and his right-wing friends to his Communist enemies,
and he was thoroughly detested by both groups, who never
defended him to anyone because they thought he was a dope.
He was a very serious, very earnest and very conscientious dope. It
was impossible to go to a movie with him without getting involved
afterward in a discussion on empathy, Aristotle, universals, messages
and the obligations of the cinema as an art form in a materialistic society.
Girls he took to the theater had to wait until the first intermission
to find out from him whether or not they were seeing a good or a bad
play, and then found out at once. He was a militant idealist who crusaded
against racial bigotry by growing faint in its presence. He knew
everything about literature except how to enjoy it.
Yossarian tried to help him. "Don't be a dope," he had counseled
Clevinger when they were both at cadet school in Santa Ana, California.
"I'm going to tell him," Clevinger insisted, as the two of them sat
high in the reviewing stands looking down on the auxiliary parade-ground
at Lieutenant Scheisskopf raging back and forth like a beardless
"Why me?" Lieutenant Scheisskopf wailed.
"Keep still, idiot," Yossarian advised Clevinger avuncularly.
"You don't know what you're talking about," Clevinger objected.
"I know enough to keep still, idiot."
Lieutenant Scheisskopf tore his hair and gnashed his teeth. His rubbery
cheeks shook with gusts of anguish. His problem was a squadron
of aviation cadets with low morale who marched atrociously in the
parade competition that took place every Sunday afternoon. Their
morale was low because they did not want to march in parades every
Sunday afternoon and because Lieutenant Scheisskopf had appointed
cadet officers from their ranks instead of permitting them to elect their
"I want someone to tell me," Lieutenant Scheisskopf beseeched
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."
Lieutenant Scheisskopf was an R.O.TC. graduate who was rather
glad that war had broken out, since it gave him an opportunity to wear
an officer's uniform every day and say "Men" in a clipped, military voice
to the bunches of kids who fell into his clutches every eight weeks on
their way to the butcher's block. He was an ambitious and humorless
Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who confronted his responsibilities soberly and
smiled only when some rival officer at the Santa Ana Army Air Force
Base came down with a lingering disease. He had poor eyesight and
chronic sinus trouble, which made war especially exciting for him, since
he was in no danger of going overseas. The best thing about him was
his wife and the best thing about his wife was a girl friend named Dori
Duz who did whenever she could and had a Wac uniform that Lieutenant
Scheisskopfs wife put on every weekend and took off every
weekend for every cadet in her husband's squadron who wanted to
creep into her.
Dori Duz was a lively little tart of copper-green and gold who loved
doing it best in toolsheds, phone booths, field houses and bus kiosks.
There was little she hadn't tried and less she wouldn't. She was shameless,
slim, nineteen and aggressive. She destroyed egos by the score and
made men hate themselves in the morning for the way she found them,
used them and tossed them aside. Yossarian loved her. She was a marvelous
piece of ass who found him only fair. He loved the feel of
springy muscle beneath her skin everywhere he touched her the only
time she'd let him. Yossarian loved Dori Duz so much that he couldn't
help flinging himself down passionately on top of Lieutenant Scheisskopfs
wife every week to revenge himself upon Lieutenant Scheisskopf
for the way Lieutenant Scheisskopf was revenging himself upon Clevinger.
Lieutenant Scheisskopfs wife was revenging herself upon Lieutenant
Scheisskopf for some unforgettable crime of his she couldn't recall. She
was a plump, pink, sluggish girl who read good books and kept urging
Yossarian not to be so bourgeois without the r. She was never without a
good book close by, not even when she was lying in bed with nothing on
her but Yossanan and Don Duz's dog tags. She bored Yossarian, but he
was in love with her, too. She was a crazy mathematics major from the
Wharton School of Business who could not count to twenty-eight each
month without getting into trouble.
"Darling, we're going to have a baby again," she would say to
Yossarian every month.
"You're out of your goddam head," he would reply.
"I mean it, baby," she insisted.
"So do 1."
"Darling, we're going to have a baby again," she would say to her
"I haven't the time," Lieutenant Scheisskopf would grumble petulantly.
"Don't you know there's a parade going on?"
Lieutenant Scheisskopf cared very deeply about winning parades
and about bringing Clevinger up on charges before the Action Board
for conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the cadet officers Lieutenant
Scheisskopf had appointed. 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.
It could not be anything to do with parades, for Clevinger took the
parades almost as seriously as Lieutenant Scheisskopf himself. The
men fell out for the parades early each Sunday afternoon and groped
their way into ranks of twelve outside the barracks. Groaning with
hangovers, they limped in step to their station on the main parade-ground,
where they stood motionless in the heat for an hour or two
with the men from the sixty or seventy other cadet squadrons until
enough of them had collapsed to call it a day. On the edge of the field
stood a row of ambulances and teams of trained stretcher bearers with
walkie-talkies. On the roofs of the ambulances were spotters with
binoculars. A tally clerk kept score. Supervising this entire phase of the
operation was a medical officer with a flair for accounting who okayed
pulses and checked the figures of the tally clerk. As soon as enough
unconscious men had been collected in the ambulances, the medical
officer signaled the bandmaster to strike up the band and end the
parade. One behind the other, the squadrons marched up the field,
executed a cumbersome turn around the reviewing stand and marched
down the field and back to their barracks.
Each of the parading squadrons was graded as it marched past the
reviewing stand, where a bloated colonel with a big fat mustache sat
with the other officers. 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.
The parades themselves seemed equally absurd. Yossarian hated a
parade. Parades were so martial. He hated hearing them, hated seeing
them, hated being tied up in traffic by them. He hated being made to
take part in them. It was bad enough being an aviation cadet without
having to act like a soldier in the blistering heat every Sunday afternoon.
It was bad enough being an aviation cadet because it was obvious
now that the war would not be over before he had finished his training.
That was the only reason he had volunteered for cadet training in the
first place. As a soldier who had qualified for aviation cadet training, he
had weeks and weeks of waiting for assignment to a class, weeks and
weeks more to become a bombardier-navigator, weeks and weeks more
of operational training after that to prepare him for overseas duty. It
seemed inconceivable then that the war could last that long, for God
was on his side, he had been told, and God, he had also been told, could
do whatever He wanted to. But the war was not nearly over, and his
training was almost complete.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf longed desperately to· win parades and sat
up half the night working on it while his wife waited amorously for him
in bed thumbing through Krafft-Ebing to her favorite passages. He
read books on marching. He manipulated boxes of chocolate soldiers
until they melted in his hands and then maneuvered in ranks of twelve
a set of plastic cowboys he had bought from a mail-order house under
an assumed name and kept locked away from everyone's eyes during
the day. Leonardo's exercises in anatomy proved indispensable. One
evening he felt the need for a live model and directed his wife to march
around the room.
"Naked?" she asked hopefully.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf smacked his hands over his eyes in exasperation.
It was the despair of Lieutenant Scheisskopfs life to be chained to
a woman who was incapable of looking beyond her own dirty, sexual
desires to the titanic struggles for the unattainable in which noble man
could become heroically engaged.
"Why don't you ever whip me?" she pouted one night.
"Because I haven't the time," he snapped at her impatiently. "1
haven't the time. Don't you know there's a parade going on?"
And he really did not have the time. There it was Sunday already, with
only seven days left in the week to get ready for the next parade. He had
no idea where the hours went. Finishing last in three successive parades
had given Lieutenant Scheisskopf an unsavory reputation, and he considered
every means of improvement, even nailing the twelve men in
each rank to a long two-by-four beam of seasoned oak to keep them in
line. The plan was not feasible, for making a ninety-degree turn would
have been impossible without nickel-alloy swivels inserted in the small
of every man's back, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf was not sanguine at all
about obtaining that many nickel-alloy swivels from Quartermaster or
enlisting the co-operation of the surgeons at the hospital.
The week after Lieutenant Scheisskopf followed Clevinger's recommendation
and let the men elect their own cadet officers, the squadron
won the yellow pennant. Lieutenant Scheisskopf was so elated by this
unexpected achievement that he gave his wife a sharp. crack over the
head with the pole when she tried to drag him into bed to celebrate by
showing their contempt for the sexual mores of the lower middle
classes in Western civilization. The next week the squadron won the red
flag, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf was beside himself with rapture. And
the week after that his squadron made history by winning the red pennant
two weeks in a row! Now Lieutenant Scheisskopf had confidence
enough in his powers to spring his big surprise. Lieutenant Scheisskopf
had discovered in his extensive research that the hands of marchers,
instead of swinging freely, as was then the popular fashion, ought never
to be moved more than three inches from the center of the thigh, which
meant, in effect, that they were scarcely to be swung at all.
Lieutenant Scheisskopfs preparations were elaborate and clandestine.
All the cadets in his squadron were sworn to secrecy and rehearsed
in the dead of night on the auxiliary parade-ground. They marched in
darkness that was pitch and bumped into each other blindly, but they
did not panic, and they were learning to march without swinging their
hands. Lieutenant Scheisskopfs first thought had been to have a friend
of his in the sheet metal shop sink pegs of nickel alloy into each man's
thighbones and link them to the wrists by strands of copper wire with
exactly three inches of play, but there wasn't time-there was never
enough time-and good copper wire was hard to come by in wartime.
He remembered also that the men, so hampered, would be unable to
fall properly during the impressive fainting ceremony preceding the
marching and that an inability to faint properly might affect the unit's
rating as a whole.
And all week long he chortled with repressed delight at the officers'
club. Speculation grew rampant among his closest friends.
"I wonder what that Shithead is up to," Lieutenant Engle said.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf responded with a knowing smile to the
queries of his colleagues. "You'll find out Sunday," he promised.
"You'll find out."
Lieutenant Scheisskopf unveiled his epochal surprise that Sunday
with all the aplomb of an experienced impresario. He said nothing
while the other squadrons ambled past the reviewing stand crookedly
in their customary manner. He gave no sign even when the first ranks
of his own squadron hove into sight with their swingless marching and
the first stricken gasps of alarm were hissing from his startled fellow
officers. He held back even then until the bloated colonel with the big
fat mustache whirled upon him savagely with a purpling face, and then
he offered the explanation that made him immortal.
"Look, Colonel," he announced. "No hands."
And to an audience stilled with awe, he distributed certified photostatic
copies of the obscure regulation on which he had built his unforgettable
triumph. This was Lieutenant Scheisskopfs finest hour. He
won the parade, of course, hands down, obtaining permanent possession
of the red pennant and ending the Sunday parades altogether,
since good red pennants were as hard to come by in wartime as good
copper wire. Lieutenant Scheisskopf was made First Lieutenant
Scheisskopf on the spot and began his rapid rise through the ranks.
There were few who did not hail him as a true military genius for his
important discovery.
"That Lieutenant Scheisskopf," Lieutenant Travers remarked.
"He's a military genius."
"Yes, he really is," Lieutenant Engle agreed. "It's a pity the schmuck
won't whip his wife."
"I don't see what that has to do with it," Lieutenant Travers
answered coolly. "Lieutenant Bemis whips Mrs. Bemis beautifully
every time they have sexual intercourse, and he isn't worth a farthing
at parades."
"I'm talking about flagellation," Lieutenant Engle retorted. "Who
gives a damn about parades?"
Actually, no one but Lieutenant Scheisskopf really gave a damn
about the parades, least of all the bloated colonel with the big fat mustache,
who was chairman of the Action Board and began bellowing at
Clevinger the moment Clevinger stepped gingerly into the room to
plead innocent to the charges Lieutenant Scheisskopf had lodged
against him. The colonel beat his fist down upon the table and hurt his
hand and became so further enraged with Clevinger that he beat his
fist down upon the table even harder and hurt his hand some more.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf glared at Clevinger with tight lips, mortified
by the poor impression Clevinger was making.
"In sixty days you'll be fighting Billy Petrolle," the colonel with the
big fat mustache roared. "And you think it's a big fat joke."
"I don't think it's a joke, sir," Clevinger replied.
"Don't interrupt." .
"Yes, sir."
"And say 'sir' when you do," ordered Major Metcalf.
"Yes, sir."
"Weren't you Just ordered not to interrupt?" Major Metcalf inquired
"But I didn't interrupt, sir," Clevinger protested.
"No. And you didn't say 'sir,' either. Add that to the charges against
him," Major Metcalf directed the corporal who could take shorthand.
"Failure to say 'sir' to superior officers when not interrupting them."
"Metcalf," said the colonel, "you're a goddam fool. Do you know
Major Metcalf swallowed with difficulty. "Yes, sir."
"Then keep your goddam mouth shut. You don't make sense."
There were three members of the Action Board, the bloated colonel
with the big fat mustache, Lieutenant Scheisskopf and Major Metcalf,
who was trying to develop a steely gaze. As a member of the Action
Board, Lieutenant Scheisskopf was one of the judges who would weigh
the merits of the case against Clevinger as presented by the prosecutor. Lieutenant Scheisskopf was also the prosecutor. Clevinger had an
officer defending him. The officer defending him was Lieutenant
It was all very confusing to Clevinger, who began vibrating in terror
as the colonel surged to his feet like a gigantic belch and threatened to
rip his stinking, cowardly body apart limb from limb. One day he had
stumbled while marching to class; the next day he was formally
charged with "breaking ranks while in formation, felonious assault,
indiscriminate behavior, mopery, high treason, provoking, being a
smart guy, listening to classical music, and so on." In short, they threw
the book at him, and there he was, standing in dread before the bloated
colonel, who roared once more that in sixty days he would be fighting
Billy Petrolle and demanded to know how the hell he would like being
washed out and shipped to the Solomon Islands to bury bodies.
Clevinger replied with courtesy that he would not like it; he was a dope
who would rather be a corpse than bury one. The colonel sat down and
settled back, calm and cagey suddenly, and ingratiatingly polite.
"What did you mean," he inquired slowly, "when you said we
couldn't punish you?"
"When, sir?"
"I'm asking the questions. You're answering them."
"Yes, sir. I-"
"Did you think we brought you here to ask questions and for me to
answer them?"
"No, sir. I-"
"What did we bring you here for?"
"To answer questions."
"You're goddam right," roared the colonel. "Now suppose you start
answering some before I break your goddam head. Just what the hell
did you mean, you bastard, when you said we couldn't punish you?"
"I don't think I ever made that statement, sir."
"Will you speak up, please? I couldn't hear you."
"Yes, sir. I-"
"Will you speak up, please? He couldn't hear you."
"Yes, sir. I-"
"Didn't I tell you to keep your stupid mouth shut?"
"Yes, sir."
"Then keep your stupid mouth shut when I tell you to keep your
stupid mouth shut. Do you understand? Will you speak up, please? I
couldn't hear you."
"Yes, sir. I-"
"Metcalf, is that your foot I'm stepping on?"
"No, sir. It must be Lieutenant Scheisskopfs foot."
"It isn't my foot," said Lieutenant Scheisskopf.
"Then maybe it is my foot after all," said Major Metcalf.
"Move it."
"Yes, sir. You'll have to move your foot first, Colonel. It's on top of
"Are you telling me to move my foot?" .
"No, sir. Oh, no, sir."
"Then move your foot and keep your stupid mouth shut. Will you
speak up, please? I still couldn't hear you."
"Yes, sir. I said that I didn't say that you couldn't punish me."
"Just what the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm answering your question, sir."
"What question?"
"'Just what the hell did you mean, you bastard, when you said we
couldn't punish you?'" said the corporal who could take shorthand,
reading from his steno pad.
"All right," said the colonel. "Just what the hell did you mean?"
"I didn't say you couldn't punish me, sir."
"When?" asked the colonel.
"When what, sir?"
"Now you're asking me questions again."
"I'm sorry, sir. I'm afraid I don't understand your question."
"When didn't you say we couldn't punish you? Don't you understand
my question?"
"No, sir. I don't understand."
"You've just told us that. Now suppose you answer my question."
"But how can I answer it?"
"That's another question you're asking me."
"I'm sorry, sir. But I don't know how to answer it. I never said you
couldn't punish me."
"Now you're telling us when you did say it. I'm asking you to tell us
when you didn't say it."
Clevinger took a deep breath. "I always didn't say you couldn't punish
me, sir."
"That's much better, Mr. Clevinger, even though it is a barefaced
lie. 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
"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 am pretty stupid, because the distinction escapes me."
"You're a windy son of a bitch, aren't you? Nobody asked you for clarification
and you're giving me clarification. 1 was making a statement,
not asking for clarification. You are a windy son of a bitch, aren't you?"
"No, sir."
"O, sir? Are you calling me a goddam liar?"
"Oh, no, sir."
"Then you're a windy son. of a bitch, aren't you?"
"No, sir."
"Are you trying to pick a fight with me?"
"No, sir."
"Are you a windy son of a bitch?"
"No, sir."
"Goddammit, you are trying to pick a fight with me. For two stinking
cents I'd jump over this big fat table and rip your stinking, cowardly
body apart limb from limb."
"Do it! Do it!" cried Major Metcalf.
"Metcalf, you stinking son of a bitch. Didn't I tell you to keep your
stinking, cowardly, stupid mouth shut?"
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir."
"Then suppose you do it."
"I was only trying to learn, sir. The only way a person can learn is
by trying."
"Who says so?"
"Everybody says so, sir. Even Lieutenant Scheisskopf says so."
"Do you say so?"
"Yes, sir," said Lieutenant Scheisskopf. "But everybody says so."
"Well, Metcalf, suppose you try keeping that stupid mouth of yours
shut, and maybe that's the way you'll learn how. Now, where were we?
Read me back the last line."
"'Read me back the last line,'" read back the corporal who could
take shorthand.
"Not my last line, stupid!" the colonel shouted. "Somebody else's."
"'Read me back the last line,'" read back the corporal.
"That's my last line again!" shrieked the colonel, turning purple with
"Oh, no, sir," corrected the corporal. "That's my last line. I read it
to you just a moment ago. Don't you remember, sir? It was only a
moment ago."
"Oh, my God! Read me back his last line, stupid. Say, what the hell's
your name, anyway?"
"Popinjay, sir."
"Well, you're next, Popinjay. As soon as this ,trial ends, your trial
begins. Get it?"
"Yes, sir. What will I be charged with?"
"What the hell difference does that make? Did you hear what he
asked me? You're going to learn, Popinjay -- the minute we finish with
Clevinger you're going to learn. Cadet Clevinger, what did -- You are
Cadet Clevinger, aren't you, and not Popinjay?"
"Yes, sir."
"Good. What did-"
"I'm Popinjay, sir."
"Popinjay, is your father a millionaire, or a member of the Senate?"
"No, sir."
"Then you're up shit creek, Popinjay, without a paddle. He's not a
general or a high-ranking member of the Administration, is he?"
"No, sir."
"That's good. What does your father do?"
"He's dead, sir."
"That's very good. You really are up the creek, Popinjay. Is Popinjay
really your name? Just what the hell kind of a name is Popinjay, anyway?
I don't like it."
"It's Popinjay's name, sir," Lieutenant Scheisskopf explained.
"Well, I don't like it, Popinjay, and I just can't wait to rip your stinking,
cowardly body apart limb from limb. Cadet Clevinger, will you
please repeat what the hell it was you did or didn't whisper to Yossarian
late last night in the latrine?"
"Yes, sir. I said that you couldn't find me guilty-"
"We'll take it from there. Precisely what did you mean, Cadet
Clevinger, when you said we couldn't find you guilty?"
"I didn't say you couldn't find me guilty, sir."
"When what, sir?"
"Goddammit, are you going to start pumping me again?"
"No, sir. I'm sorry, sir."
"Then answer the question. When didn't you say we couldn't find
you guilty?"
"Late last night in the latrine, sir."
"Is that the only time you didn't say it?"
"No, sir. I always didn't say you couldn't find me guilty, sir. What I
did say to Yossarian was-"
"Nobody asked you what you did say to Yossarian. We asked you
what you didn't say to him. We're not at all interested in what you did
say to Yossarian. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir."
"Then we'll go on. What did you say to Yossarian?"
"I said to him, sir, that you couldn't find me guilty of the offense
with which I am charged and still be faithful to the cause of ... "
"Of what;! You're mumbling."
"Stop mumbling."
"Yes, sir."
"And mumble 'sir' when you do."
"Metcalf, you bastard!"
"Yes, sir," mumbled Clevinger. "Of justice, sir. That you couldn't
"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. Garroting. That's what justice is when we've all got to be
tough enough and rough enough to fight Billy Petrolle. From the hip.
Get it?"
"No, sir."
"Don't sir me!"
"Yes, sir."
"And say 'sir' when you don't," ordered Major Metcalf.
Clevinger was guilty, of course, or he would not have been accused,
and since the only way to prove it was to find him guilty, it was their
patriotic duty to do so. He was sentenced to walk fifty-seven punishment
tours. Popinjay was locked up to be taught a lesson, and Major
Metcalf was shipped to the Solomon Islands to bury bodies. A punishment
tour for Clevinger was fifty minutes of a weekend hour spent
pacing back and forth before the provost marshal's building with a ~on
of an unloaded rifle on his shoulder.
It was all very confusing to Clevinger. There were many strange
things taking place, but the strangest of all, to Clevinger, was the hatred,
the brutal, uncloaked, inexorable hatred of the members of the Action
Board, glazing their unforgiving expressions with a hard, vindictive surface,
glowing in their narrowed eyes malignantly like inextinguishable
coals. Clevinger was stunned to discover it. They would have lynched
him if they could. They were three grown men and he was a boy, and
they hated him and wished him dead. They had hated him before he
came, hated him while he was there, hated him after he left, carried
their hatred for him away malignantly like some pampered treasure
after they separated from each other and went to their solitude.
Yossarian had done his best to warn him the night before. "You
haven't got a chance, kid," he had 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."
Clevinger recoiled from their hatred as though from a blinding
light. These three men who hated him spoke his language and wore his
uniform, but he saw their loveless faces set immutably into cramped,
mean lines of hostility and understood instantly that nowhere in the
world, not in all the fascist tanks or planes or submarines, not in the
bunkers behind the machine guns or mortars or behind the blowing
flame throwers, not even among all the expert gunners of the crack
Hermann Goering Antiaircraft Division or among the grisly connivers
in all the beer halls in Munich and everywhere else, were there men
who hated him more.