by Joseph Heller
Catch-22 Fear Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
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 […]. (5.91)
Yossarian points out that one must have a good deal of intelligence to fear for his life. According to Yossarian, fear breeds mistrust. This shows that Yossarian maintains a degree of rationality even in his frenzied fear.
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 […]. (5.92)
Interestingly, fear here is a statement of hope. Where Dunbar has given up all thoughts of living a long life, Yossarian has not. His fear and actions taken to stay alive show that he still has hope of surviving the war. But fear does distort his emotions; he begins hating McWatt irrationally.
"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. (5.94)
Yossarian's fear affects the way this passage is narrated. Instead of speaking in short succinct sentences, Yossarian lets his thoughts run in one long continuous sentence which he does not attempt to chop or analyze. He is concerned only with feeling and with surviving.