Running Away (Catch-22 Chapter 42)

by Andrew Schwenn

The Context

Throughout the book, Yossarian wants to get sent home so he doesn't have to fight in the war, but Colonel Cathcart keeps raising the number of missions he must complete to be sent home, and he can't plead insanity because of Catch-22, which stated that he could only be grounded for insanity if he asked, but if he was asking, he was sane, since no sane person would want to continue fighting in the war. In this scene, Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn offer him a deal in which he will be sent home, but he must betray the men in his sqaudron. Shortly after he accepts this deal, he gets stabbed many times, and has to undergo surgery. When it's through, he learns that his only friend still alive, Hungry Joe, had actually died. He wakes up to a man saying "we've got your pal", which leads to him having a flashback to Snowden's death. Yossarian decides that he can no longer go through with the deal, because it'll betray the memory of his dead friends.
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"'It's a lousy deal, Danby. It's an odious deal'... 'I did it in a moment of weakness,' Yossarian wisecracked with glum irony. 'I was trying to save my life'" (Heller 441).

"'Let's face it Yossarian--in spite of everything, the group does have a very good record. If you were court-martialed and found innocent, other men would probably refuse to fly missions, too. Colonel Cathcart would be in disgrace, and the military efficiency of the unit might be destroyed. So in that way it would be for the good of the country to have you found guilty and put in prison, even though you are innocent'" (Heller 443).

"Yossarian laughed with buoyant scorn and shook his head. 'I'm not running away from my responsibilities. I'm running to them. There's nothing negative about running away to save my life. You know who the escapists are, don't you Danby? Not me and Orr'" (Heller 451).

betrayal --- crazy --- enthusiasm

The Significance

As previously stated, Yossarian wants to get sent home throughout the novel. He doesn't agree with the way they're going about fighting and feels powerless compared to the bureaucrats who force him to stay with rules and paradoxes like Catch-22. When he does agree to their deal a few chapters prior to this scene, he almost immediately gets stabbed multiple times, and has time to reflect on his decision. All of his friends have been killed somehow in this war, and he realizes that he can't sell himself out. He fights back against the bureaucracy by running away, and after doing so he is almost stabbed again, but this time he evades it, which could be evidence that he's doing the right thing.