These Catch-22 quotes can remind us of the importance of maintaining our smile in the face of tragedy.
War is horrific, and it’s also how humanity has solved its disagreements since we can remember. Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 is effective because it uses satirical comedy to inform the reader of the horrors of war. It is often said that comedy is a genius art because it is one of the ways humans can express the depth of certain experiences.
To collectively laugh at pain is where true empathy and understanding can occur. Heller does this for the reader through eccentric personas like the protagonist Captain John Yossarian and other colorful characters who occupy the squadron hospital.
The premise of the novel is as humorous as it is disturbing. Heller is able to convey the brutal and tragic side of combat while helping the reader keep a smile.
Don’t forget to also check out these Lolita quotes from the controversial novel.
Catch-22 Quotes on Mental Health
1. “Insanity is contagious.” – Joseph Heller
2. “I’ll bet I can name two things to be miserable about for everyone you can name to be thankful for.”- Joseph Heller
3. “Now you’ve given them hope, and they’re unhappy. So the blame is all yours.” – Joseph Heller
4. “You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like bigots, bullies, snobs, or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate.” – Joseph Heller
5. “Consciously, sir, consciously,” Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. “I hate them consciously.” – Joseph Heller
6. “You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.” – Joseph Heller
7. “He was – Crazy!” Clevinger interrupted, shrieking. “That’s what you are! Crazy!” – Joseph Heller
8. “You’re antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated, or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re a manic-depressive!” – Joseph Heller
9. “From now on I’m thinking only of me.”Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.” “Then,” said Yossarian, “I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?” – Joseph Heller
10. “He made so many people uneasy. Everyone was always very friendly toward him, and no one was ever very nice; everyone spoke to him, and no one ever said anything.” – Joseph Heller
11. “Immense. I’m a real slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I’m a bona fide Supraman.”
“Superman?” Clevinger cried. “Superman?”
Supraman,” Yossarian corrected.” – Joseph Heller
Catch-22 Quotes on Communism and Surveillance
12. “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” – Joseph Heller
13. “Why are they going to disappear him?’
I don’t know.’
It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t even good grammar.” – Joseph Heller
14. “Yossarian – the very sight of the name made Colonel Cathcart shudder. There were so many esses in it. It just had to be subversive. It was like the word “subversive” itself. It was like “seditious” and “insidious” too, and like “socialist,” “suspicious,” “fascist” and “Communist.” It was an odious, alien, distasteful name, a name that just did not inspire confidence.” – Joseph Heller
Catch-22 Quotes on God
15. Why in the world did He ever create pain?” – Joseph Heller
16. “There’s nothing mysterious about it, He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us.” – Joseph Heller
17. “And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. “There’s nothing so mysterious about it.” – Joseph Heller
18. “That’s the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed.” – Joseph Heller
19. “Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from waters and valleys and God? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.” – Joseph Heller
20. “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.” – Joseph Heller
21. “The chaplain was apologetic. “I’m sorry, sir, but just about all the prayers I know are rather somber in tone and make at least some passing reference to God.” – Joseph Heller
22. “Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation?” – Joseph Heller
23. “What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements?” – Joseph Heller
24. “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.” – Joseph Heller
Catch-22 Quotes on Battle
25. “Be glad you’re even alive. Be furious you’re going to die.” – Joseph Heller
What did you learn from these Catch-22 quotes?
Catch-22 was a banned book for some time. Why? Well, the novel’s premise is funny; a group of injured soldiers in a military hospital during World War II who are asked in their downtime to edit and censor letters written by soldiers on the battlefield to their families back home in the United States.
The novel is set in the 1950s and it addresses the Mccarthy era of American history where people were severely repressed. People were accused of being Communists in a witch hunt that had devastating effects across the country. People were blacklisted, jailed, harassed and killed.
Those who refused to sign oaths swearing their allegiance to America and completely denouncing communism were given prison sentences. Heller did an excellent job revealing the dark and light sides of the human experience even during conflict times. Reading Catch-22 will no doubt help you remember some reasons to smile when things get tough.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Catch-22 quotes and lines? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.