Catch-22

Catch-22

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Rome Symbol Icon
Yossarian manages to find a way out of this catch by deciding, at the novel’s end, to flee for Sweden. Thus he no longer has to fly missions, nor must he accept a deal, offered in unsavory fashion by Cathcart and Korn, allowing him to go home. By running to Sweden, Yossarian preserves his independence and leaves behind the military and its “catches.”

Rome Quotes in Catch-22

The Catch-22 quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rome. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Catch-22 published in 1996.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Do you remember . . . that time in Rome when that girl who can’t stand you kept hitting me over the head with the heel of her shoe? Do you want to know why she was hitting me?

Related Characters: Orr (speaker), John “Yo-Yo” Yossarian
Related Symbols: Rome
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Orr is a foil to Yossarian's protestations of sane insanity - as Yossarian has a difficult time understanding the logic linking Orr's thoughts, one to another. When Orr offers to tell Yossarian why a prostitute was hitting him over the head, he never follows through, and Yossarian doesn't ask - it is a broken-off point in the narrative, one that will recur and lightly preoccupy Yossarian.

In this way, Orr's seemingly non-rational speech connects to the larger lack of explanatory value in anything the airmen do - at least, in Yossarian's view. Thus the war itself continues, and people die, even though no one wants to die, and no one person seems capable of defining how each mission relates to the overall goal of winning the war. War, then, is disconnected from rational values even as it appears based on the most fundamental values of all - human bravery over cowardice, strength over weakness, good men vs. bad. 

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Chapter 23 Quotes

The Germans are being driven out [of Italy], and we are still here. In a few years you will be gone, too, and we will still be here. You see, Italy is a very poor and weak country, and that’s what makes us so strong.

Related Symbols: Catch-22, Rome
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

The old man Nately discovers in Rome argues that it is Italy's very weakness that is the source of its strength. Nately believes this is a horrible, unpatriotic thing for the old man to argue for - yet the old man insists that weakness, for Italy, makes the country strong. Nately wonders how this can be.

The old man counters that Italy, though not principled, is adaptable, in ways that Germany and the United States could never be. Germany's principles have led it into the current conflict, in which it will be destroyed. And America's principles force Americans to defend freedoms around the world, often at great cost. But Italy's principle is simply survival, at least according to the old man. This means that when occupying powers are gone, Italy can go right back to being Italy, without concern for foreign involvement. This principle of self-preservation over all else keeps Italy alive, the old man insists. 

Chapter 33 Quotes

It just isn’t right for a nice girl like you to go looking for other men to sleep with. I’ll give you all the money you need, so you won’t have to do it any more.

Related Characters: Nately (speaker), Nately’s Whore and her kid sister
Related Symbols: Rome
Page Number: 369
Explanation and Analysis:

Nately does what officers are told not to do when on leave - he falls in love with a woman in Rome, a prostitute. She wants only to go to sleep, but finds that she cannot - because too many other officers seek her attentions. When finally she does sleep, she is refreshed, and she agrees to "date" Nately.

But Nately finds that her habits die hard. In particular, she does not wish to wear clothes, because she is accustomed to sitting around apartments semi-nude, waiting for clients. She does not understand why this behavior hurts Nately, and Nately, try though he might to convince her otherwise, cannot.

Nately's love for his girlfriend is a kind of foil to Yossarian's love, both for Nurse Duckett and for Luciana, whom he still seeks out when in Rome. These romances are all nonstarters - based on impossibilities and miscommunications, just like the miscommunications that occur within the unit before and during battle. 

Chapter 39 Quotes

Catch-22 . . . . Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.

Related Symbols: Catch-22, Rome
Page Number: 417
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of the more chilling passages in the novel. Yossarian has gone AWOL, absent without leave, and he lands in Rome to discover that the city is mostly destroyed (even though Rome was an "open city" during the war, and was largely protected from Allied bombardment). The old woman Yossarian meets claims that the destruction of Rome, and indeed the effort of the entire war, is a Catch-22 - but Yossarian does not understand how she could have known this term, which is particular to his unit. She says she learned it from American GIs who were in the apartment in her neighborhood with prostitutes. Yossarian believes these might be men of his unit, but he is not aware of which of the many contradictions and irrationalities of war these men could have been referring to. Indeed, Yossarian seems to think that, at this point, all of war, and all of Rome, is a Catch-22, a large impossibility, a thing too difficult to be worked out or understood. 

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Rome Symbol Timeline in Catch-22

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rome appears in Catch-22. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Clevinger
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...foolhardy and dangerously low-flying pilot; and Nately, who is in love with a prostitute in Rome. The narrator states, without explanation, that a dead man also lives with Yossarian and Orr. (full context)
Chapter 3: Havermeyer
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
...frustrated with the behavior of his bizarre tent-mate. Orr reminds Yossarian of a scene in Rome, when a naked prostitute beat Orr over the head with her shoe. Orr says he... (full context)
Chapter 4: Doc Daneeka
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
...make money? And what man of brains makes money? Wintergreen, a man working in the Rome headquarters, answers “T. S. Eliot,” and General Peckem and Cargill, not knowing who Eliot is,... (full context)
Chapter 7: McWatt
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Nately, Dunbar, and others take Yossarian’s uneaten fruit and give it to prostitutes in Rome, who sell it to buy “cheap perfume and costume jewelry.” Milo is amazed by Yossarian’s... (full context)
Chapter 13: Major _____ de Coverley
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Major de Coverley did his “finest work” renting apartments in Rome, where he secured a whole floor of a building underneath a beautiful woman and her... (full context)
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Major de Coverley has only been wounded once, in a parade through Rome after the Allies seized the city. He was hit in the eye with a by... (full context)
Chapter 15: Piltchard & Wren
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...landing, but Orr is OK. Yossarian is exhausted and decides to hop a plane to Rome, for a rest-leave, in order to calm down. (full context)
Chapter 16: Luciana
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian meets Luciana at a bar in Rome, whisking her away from another Allied soldier. He dances with her, buys her a dinner... (full context)
Chapter 23: Nately’s Old Man
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Back in Rome, on rest leave, Nately has managed again to find his prostitute, the woman he loves,... (full context)
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...The old man recounts how he danced in the streets during the Nazi entrance into Rome, and danced again during the American entrance. It is revealed the old man fired the... (full context)
Chapter 26: Aarfy
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Nately is upset, on rest leave in Rome, that his prostitute doesn’t return his affections. In fact, she returns his money after a... (full context)
Chapter 28: Dobbs
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...the story of the woman who hit him in the head with a shoe in Rome, but Yossarian interrupts him. Yossarian begins thinking of all Orr’s skills—he is an incredible craftsman... (full context)
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...with the very small components of the stove, and the two talk of prostitutes in Rome—including Captain Black, who sleeps with Nately’s girl in order to anger Nately. Orr asks, again,... (full context)
Chapter 32: Yo-Yo’s Roomies
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...is a dead man at all. Yossarian becomes upset, finds Hungry Joe, and flies to Rome for another rest leave. (full context)
Chapter 33: Nately’s Whore
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian walks the streets of Rome; he misses Nurse Duckett and is upset he cannot find Luciana. He comes upon a... (full context)
Chapter 35: Milo the Militant
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...and if he’s sent home, he can no longer see his girlfriend, the prostitute in Rome. Yossarian can’t believe Nately wants to stay in the combat zone. (full context)
Chapter 38: Kid Sister
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...with Dunbar, but Korn argues, instead, that they should send him on rest leave to Rome. (full context)
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...Pianosa, they hide in wait for him and almost stab him on numerous occasions throughout Rome. Yossarian eventually escapes back to Pianosa, but does not know that Nately’s prostitute has hidden... (full context)
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...into Captain Black one day, when he (Yossarian) has decided once again to flee to Rome, and is walking through the camp backward while brandishing his pistol to make clear that... (full context)
Chapter 39: The Eternal City
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
Yossarian is going to Rome AWOL (absent without leave), and Milo chastises him for this, saying Yossarian is not a... (full context)
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...one cared about the girl, and no one will ever discover the crime in lawless Rome. (full context)
Chapter 40: Catch-22
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Gallows Humor Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...they have enough information against Yossarian to court-marshal him, especially after Yossarian went AWOL to Rome. But they would prefer that he left quietly. (full context)
Chapter 42: Yossarian
Paradox and Impossibility Theme Icon
War and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Communication and Miscommunication Theme Icon
Self-interest, Altruism, and Morality Theme Icon
...accept, Cathcart and Korn will initiate a court-martial against him for his going AWOL to Rome. Yossarian believes he could fight these charges, since an official report has been drawn up... (full context)