Yossarian! ! ! (?) !

I’ve been told that Superintendent Metzler brought up my name repeatedly during the SAU meeting last night. Enjoy this brief extract from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

Colonel Cathcart … was tangled up in a brand-new, menacing problem of his own:  Yossarian!

Yossarian!  The mere sound of that execrable, ugly name made his blood run cold and his breath come in labored gasps. …. The name of the man who had stood naked in ranks that day to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle had also been … Yossarian!  And now it was a man named Yossarian who was threatening to make trouble over the sixty missions he had just ordered the men in his group to fly.  Colonel Cathcart wondered gloomily if it was the same Yossarian.

…  A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins.

…  he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away.  He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand …  so that it read:

Yossarian! ! ! (?) !


He … resolved to embark upon a mature and systematic evaluation of the entire military situation.  With the businesslike air of a man who knows how to get thinks done, he found a large white pad, drew a straight line down the middle and crossed it near the top…  at the head of the left column … he wrote “Black Eyes!!!”.  At the top of the right column he wrote “Feathers in my Cap!!! !!”.  He leaned back once  more to inspect his chart admiringly from an objective perspective.


Alongside “Ferrara” and “Naked man in formation (After Avignon)” he then wrote:


Alongside “Bologna (Bomb line moved on map during)” “Food poisoning (during Bolgna)” and “Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing)” he wrote in a bold, decisive hand:


Those entries labeled “?” were the ones he wanted to investigate immediately to determine if Yossarian had played any part in them.

Simon and Schuster, New York: 1955, pp. 206-210.

Thanks to Arthur Green for the literary reference.



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