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by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 Passivity Quotes

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

Quote #1

He coughed quietly, gingerly, and dabbed the pads slowly at his lips with a distaste that had become automatic. (1.99)

This colonel has been in the ward so long that all his actions, even those related to his health condition, have become automatic and are done without feeling.

Quote #2

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 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. (3.44-45)

Fear of losing their lives and anxiety over not going home have made the men apathetic. They can do nothing but wait and grow cynical. In fact, the long wait has affected some men so much that they begin to lose their humanity. Hence the description of moving "like crabs."

Quote #3

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. (3.58)

Yossarian has risked his life so many times for seemingly pointless missions that he no longer cares whether or not he succeeds. All he cares about is surviving. This reveals his apathy towards the outcome of the war.

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