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by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 Isolation Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

They couldn't touch him [Yossarian] 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. (2.48)

Yossarian's identity begins to blend with those of popular literary figures. Thus begins the concept of Yossarian as the "everyman."

Quote #2

Actually, Major Major had been promoted by an I.B.M. machine with a sense of humor almost as keen as his father's. (9.18)

Major Major is so isolated, so cut off from human interaction, that a machine decides his fate.

Quote #3

It was a harsh and stunning realization that was forced upon him at so tender an age, the realization that he was not, as he had always been led to believe, Caleb Major, but instead was some total stranger named Major Major Major about whom he knew absolutely nothing and about whom nobody else had ever heard before. What playmates he had withdrew from him and never returned, disposed, as they were, to distrust all strangers, especially one who had already deceived them by pretending to be someone they had known for years. (9.13)

Name is inherently tied to identity. When Major Major learns his true, given name, he becomes a stranger to himself. Having identified himself as Caleb Major all his life, this new name is alien to him and essentially transforms him from a healthy, outgoing child to a fragile young boy continually shunned by his peers.

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