You See, There’s This Catch...
“You’re wasting your time,” Doc Daneeka
was forced to tell him.
“Can’t you ground someone’s who’s
“Oh sure, I have to. There’s a rule saying I have
to ground anyone who’s crazy.”
“Then why don’t you ground me. Ask Clevinger.”
“Clevinger? Where is Clevinger? You find Clevinger and
I’ll ask him.”
“Then ask any of the others. They’ll tell you
how crazy I am.”
“Then why don’t you ground them?”
“Why don’t they ask me to ground them?”
“Because they’re crazy, that’s why.”
“Of course they’re crazy,” Doc Daneeka replied.
“I just told you they’re crazy didn’t I?
And you can’t let crazy people decide whether you’re
crazy or not can you?”
Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach.
“Is Orr crazy?” “He sure is,” Doc
Daneeka said. “Can you ground him?”
“I sure can but first he has to ask me to. That’s
part of the rule.”
“Then why doesn’t he ask you to?”
“Because he’s crazy,” Doc Daneeka said.
“He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after
all the close calls he’s had. Sure I can ground Orr.
But first he has to ask me to.”
“That’s all he has to do to be grounded?”
“That’s all. Let him ask me.”
“And then you can ground him?” Yossarian asked.
“No, then I can’t ground him.”
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there is a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied.
“Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty
isn’t really crazy.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, that specified
that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers
that were real and immediate was the process of a rational
mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do
was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy
and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to
fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was
sane, he had to fly them. Yossarian was moved very deeply
by the absolute simplicity of the clause of Catch-22 and let
out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka replied.
”Daneeka was telling the truth,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen
admitted. “Forty missions is all you have to fly as
far as Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters is concerned.”
Yossarian was jubilant. “Then I can go home right? I’ve
“No, you can’t go home,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen
corrected him. “Are you crazy of something?”
“Catch-22?” Yoassarian was stunned. “What
the hell has Catch-22 got to do with it?”
“Catch-22,” Doc Daneeka answered patiently, when
Hungry Joe had flown Yossarian back to Pianosa, “says
you’ve always got to do what your commanding officer
tells you to.”
“But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with
“But they don’t say you have to go home. And regulations
do say you have to obey every order. That’s the catch.
Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-seventh Air Force
order by making you fly more missions. you’d still have
to fly them, or you’d be guilty of disobeying an order
of his. And then Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters would
really jump on you.” Yossarian slumped with disappointment.
“Then I really do have to fly the fifty missions don’t
I?” he grieved. “The fifty-five,” Doc Daneeka
correct him. “What fifty-five?” “The fifty-five
the colonel wants all of you to fly.” ”What would
they do to me,” he asked in confidential tones, “if
I refuse to fly them?” “We’d probably shoot
you,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied. “We?”
Yossarian cried in surprise. “What do you mean we? Since
when are you on their side?” “If you’re
going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?”
ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen retorted. ”Give Yossarian all
the dried fruit and fruit juices he wants,” Doc Daneeka
had written. “He says he has a liver condition.”
From Joseph Heller’s Catch 22