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by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 Language and Communication Quotes

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

Quote #1

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. (1.11)

Yossarian arbitrarily screws up the meaning of the letters with his censoring. He has no respect for the integrity of words.

Quote #2

"Oh, they're there, all right," Orr 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." (5.68)

Appleby's idealism is caused by his blindness – those rotten insects in his eyes – from Orr's perspective. Because they're in his eyes, he cannot see them or get rid of them.

Quote #3

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. (7.67)

Milo's vision is wide but blurry. This applies to his understanding of the world, which he can see only through the perspective of the syndicate. He is blind to the fact that the Germans are America's enemy. To him, the Germans are just another shareholder in the syndicate.

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