“Catch-22” (Post 3/4)


[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/4

Post 2/4

Post 4/4


[57] Reference:

The drunken Anzac major who had brought her there had been stupid enough to desert her.



Stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”.

[58] Translate:

Cosa vuol dire bullshit?”



Italian: what does it mean, [bullshit]?

[59] Vocabulary:

They reached a chaotic bus depot honking with horns, blazing with red and yellow lights and echoing with the snarling vituperations of unshaven bus drivers.




noun – bitter and abusive language.

[60] Vocabulary:

The two slender, stunning, aristocratic women who lived in the apartment upstairs and fructified Yossarian’s sex fantasies.



verb – (formal) – make (something) fruitful or productive.

bear fruit or become productive.

[61] Translate:

Vive com’ un animale!



Italian: [you] live like an animal

[62] I said all of Snowden would be covered in Post 1, note [4]. I lied.

People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane.

“I’m cold,” Snowden had whimpered. “I’m cold.”

“There, there,” Yossarian had tried to comfort him. “There, there.”

They didn’t take it on the lam weirdly inside a cloud the way Clevinger had done. They didn’t explode into blood and clotted matter. They didn’t drown or get struck by lightning, mangled by machinery or crushed in landslides. They didn’t get shot to death in hold-ups, strangled to death in rapes, stabbed to death in saloons, bludgeoned to death with axes by parents or children, or die summarily by some other act of God. Nobody choked to death. People bled to death like gentlemen in an operating room or expired without comment in an oxygen tent. There was none of that tricky now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t business so much in vogue outside the hospital, none of that now-I-am-and-now-I-ain’t. There were no famines or floods. Children didn’t suffocate in cradles or iceboxes or fall under trucks. No one was beaten to death. People didn’t stick their heads into ovens with the gas on, jump in front of subway trains or come plummeting liked dead weights out of hotel windows with a whoosh!, accelerating at the rate of sixteen feet per second per second to land with a hideous plop! on the sidewalk and die disgustingly there in public like an alpaca sack full of hairy strawberry ice cream, bleeding, pink toes awry.

(p.164 – 165)

[63] Reference:

“I can’t help thinking of the Hippolytus of Euripedes [sic], where the early licentiousness of Theseus is probably responsible for the asceticism of the son that helps bring about the tragedy that ruins them all.”



Hippolytus is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced in 428 B.C.


At the end of ten days, a new group of doctors came to get Yossarian with bad news: he was in perfect health and had to get out. He was rescued in the nick of time by a patient across the aisle who began to see everything twice. Without warning, the patient sat up in bed and shouted,

“I see everything twice!”


[65] Vocabulary:

“Let’s say, acute nephritis?”



noun – (medicine) – inflammation of the kidneys.

[66] Vocabulary:

“My husband has a whole squadron full of aviation cadets who would be only too happy to shack up with their commanding officer’s wife just for the added fillip it would give them.”



noun – 1: something that acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.

2 (archaic): a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it; a flick of the finger.


“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. “There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us.”



“What the hell are you getting so upset about?” he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. “I thought you didn’t believe in God.”

“I don’t,” she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. “But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.”

Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. “Let’s have a little more religious freedom between us,” he proposed obligingly. “You don’t believe in the God you want to, and I won’t believe in the God I want to. Is that a deal?”



“What do they want to watch their son die for, anyway?”

“I’ve never been able to figure that out,” the doctor admitted, “but they always do.”


[70] Vocabulary:

Poverty and hard work had inflicted iniquitous damage on both.



adjective – grossly unfair and morally wrong.


“We came all the way from New York. We were afraid we wouldn’t get here in time.”

“In time for what?”

“In time to see you before you died.”

“What difference would it make?”

“We didn’t want you to die by yourself.”

“What difference would it make?”

“He must be getting delirious,” the brother said. “He keeps saying the same thing over and over again.”


[72] Vocabulary:

Her tumid eyes filled with tears.



adjective – 1: (especially of a part of the body) swollen.

2: (especially of language or literary style) pompous or bombastic.


“When you talk to the man upstairs,” he said, “I want you to tell Him something for me. Tell Him it ain’t right for people to die when they’re young. I mean it. Tell Him if they got to die at all, they got to die when they’re old. I want you to tell Him that. I don’t think He knows it ain’t right, because He’s supposed to be good and it’s been going on for a long, long time. Okay?”


[74] Vocabulary:

The colonel’s ponderous, farinaceous cheeks.



adjective – 1: consisting or made of flour or meal, as food.

2: containing or yielding starch, as seeds; starchy.

3: mealy in appearance or nature.

[75] Vocabulary:

[He] lapsed into parturient silence.



adjective – (technical) – (of a woman or female mammal) about to give birth; in labor.

noun – a parturient woman.

[76] Vocabulary:

His crepuscular jowls and his square, clefted chin.



Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight. Many difference species are crepuscular, including some bats, hamsters, cats, rabbits, bears, deer, mouse, skunks, etc. Many moths, beetles, flies and other insects are crepuscular.

Using this word to describe jowls is strange. The word originally had more of a meaning of “dim” or “indistinct” and I’m going to assume Heller was using it to say Colonel Korn’s jowls are fleshy and without distinction.

[77] Reference (or, What is an Anabaptist, anyway?):

The chaplain resisted the temptation to remind him again that he was not a Catholic but an Anabaptist.



Anabaptism is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical Reformation (beginning in the 16th century) in Europe. Anabaptists are Christians who believe in delaying baptism until the candidate confesses his or her faith in Christ, as opposed to being baptized as an infant. The Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites are direct descendants of the movement. The name Anabaptist means “one who baptizes again.” Their persecutors named them this and early members did not accept the name.

[78] Reference:

“Put him on K.P. for a year.”



KP duty is “kitchen police” or “kitchen patrol” work under the kitchen staff assigned to junior U.S. enlisted military personnel.

[79] Vocabulary:

A bestial caprice that exposed in the brilliant Sicilian daylight her shocking, misshapen and denudate skull.



verb – to make bare; strip; denude.

[80] Reference:

They were stopped at the gate by gargantuan Berber guards.



noun – 1: a member of the indigenous people of North Africa. The majority of Berbers are settled farmers or (now) migrant workers.

2: the Afro-Asiatic language of the Berbers.

[81] Aarfy’s disturbingly flippant attitude toward sexual violence foreshadows his later actions (Post 4, note [120]). Which is good because I initially thought Heller was making a joke of this:

“Back in school we were always doing things like that. I remember one day we tricked these two dumb high-school girls from town into the fraternity house and made them put out for all the fellows there who wanted them by threatening to call up their parents and say they were putting out for us. We kept them trapped in bed there for more than ten hours. We even smacked their faces a little when they started to complain. Then we took away their nickels and dimes and chewing gum and threw them out. Boy, we used to have fun in that fraternity house,” he recalled peacefully.

(p.235 – 236)

[82] Vocabulary:

Then the old woman trudged out to get a girl for Hungry Joe, dipping her captious head sadly.



adjective – (formal) – (of a person) tending to find fault or raise petty objections.

[83] Vocabulary:

He looked about imploringly for help in defending his country’s future against the obnoxious calumnies of this sly and sinful assailant.




noun – the making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander.

a false and slanderous statement.

[84] Reference:

A descendant of the New England Thorntons.


Thornton isn’t an uncommon name in New England; I don’t know if there really is a branch of “New England Thorntons” that are known as such, but I did find an interesting Wikipedia entry for one John Wingate Thornton (1818 – 1878). Interesting because his Wikipedia page has the most intricate timeline I’ve ever seen.

[85] Milo Minderbinder is the only character to have multiple chapters named after him: Milo the Mayor (22), Milo (24), and Milo the Militant (35).

Unfortunately, Milo is the least interesting character to spend time with. He works best when he’s meddling in the background.

(Nope. No specific passage from the book to give you. Just this thought.)

[86] Vocabulary:

“I’m just a little logy from all those pills.”



adjective – (North American) – dull and heavy in motion or thought; sluggish.

[87] Vocabulary:

Yossarian was unmoved by the fustian charade of the burial ceremony.



noun – 1: thick, durable twilled cloth with a short nap, usually dyed in dark colors.

2: pompous or pretentious speech or writing.

[88] Vocabulary:

These were the great, complex questions of ontology that tormented him.



noun – the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.


When he sat with them he had no need to sit with anyone else; his problem of where to sit was solved, and he was protected against the undesired company of all those fellow officers who invariably welcomed him with excessive cordiality when he approached and waited uncomfortably for him to go away. He made so many people uneasy. Everyone was always very friendly towards him, and no one was ever very nice; everyone spoke to him, and no one ever said anything.



He was tormented inexorably by morbid fantasies involving [his family], by dire, hideous omens of illness and accident. His meditations were polluted with threats of dread diseases like Ewing’s tumor and leukemia; he saw his infant son die two or three times every week because he had never taught his wife how to stop arterial bleeding; watched, in tearful, paralyzed silence, his whole family electrocuted, one after the other, at a baseboard socket because he had never told her that a human body would conduct electricity; all four went up in flames almost every night when the water heater exploded and set the two-story wooden house afire; in ghastly, heartless, revolting detail he saw his poor dear wife’s trim and fragile body crushes to a viscous pulp against the brick wall of a market building by a half-witted drunken automobile driver and watched his hysterical five-year-old daughter being led away from the grisly scene by a kindly middle-aged gentleman with snow-white hair who raped and murdered her repeatedly as soon as he had driven her to a deserted sandpit, while his two younger children starved to death slowly in the house after his wife’s mother, who had been baby-sitting, dropped dead from a heart attack when the news of his wife’s accident was given to her over the telephone.


A great passage, mixing wit and dread (which might be the best description of Heller’s style I can give).

And it looks like he heard this urban legend.


The chaplain felt most deceitful presiding at funerals (…) To simulate gravity, feign grief and pretend supernatural intelligence of the hereafter in so fearsome and arcane a circumstance as death seemed the most criminal of offenses.



The massive, still, depthless, muffling sky, so weirdly blank and blue that day it was almost poisonous.


[93] Vocabulary:

The abominable orange-red pear-shaped plum tomato (…) lying on its side where he had forgotten it like an indestructible and incarnadine symbol of his own ineptitude.



noun – (literary) – a bright crimson or pinkish-red color.

adjective – of a crimson or pinkish-red color.

verb – color (something) a bright crimson or pinkish-red.


“What do you do when it rains?”

The captain answered frankly. “I get wet.”


[95] Reference:

He was too distraught to remember the lister bag hanging outside in the shade between the two tents.



noun – a canvas water bag used especially for supplying military troops with chemically purified drinking water. Sometimes spelled Lyster bag, after the inventor, William Lyster (1869 – 1947).

[96] Another impressively athletic single sentence (see also Post 2, note [17]):

Colonel Cathcart went away from General Dreedle with a gulp and kicked the chaplain out of the officers’ club, and it was exactly the way it almost was two months later after the chaplain had tried to persuade Colonel Cathcart to rescind his order increasing the number of missions to sixty and had failed abysmally in that endeavor too, and the chaplain was ready now to capitulate to despair entirely but was restrained by the memory of his wife, whom he loved and missed so pathetically with such sensual and exalted ardor, and by the lifelong trust he had placed in the wisdom and justice of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, humane, universal, anthropomorphic, English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon, pro-American God, which had begun to waver.


Post 4/4


5 thoughts on ““Catch-22” (Post 3/4)

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