Notes on Catch-22 Themes

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Catch-22 Topic Tracking: Hatred

Topic Tracking: Hatred

Chapter 2

Hatred 1: Yossarian's paranoia fills him with a homicidal hatred of everyone around him. People unknowingly threaten his life every day, and he fantasizes about machine-gunning strangers and starting fights. He irrationally believes that people are trying to kill him because they hate him, and he believes they hate him because he is Assyrian. As Clevinger observes, Yossarian has an unfounded suspicion that people hate him and want to kill him. The phenomenal Ping-Pong player Appleby is one of the main objects of Yossarian's irrational loathing. Everyone who knows the talented, handsome, patriotic Appleby likes him; yet Yossarian deeply despises him.

Chapter 5

Hatred 2: A conversation with Chief White Halfoat picks up on a second strain of hatred in the novel: racial intolerance. Yossarian's notion that people hate him for being Assyrian introduces the idea of prejudice, but Chief White Halfoat's bigotry develops it. Halfoat is a vengeful American Indian who is both a victim and perpetrator of bigotry. Because his ancestors were constantly pushed off their native land, he hates the white man. Surprisingly, though, he also loathes foreigners and uses racial slurs to demean all non-Indians.

Chapter 8

Hatred 3: Yossarian ineffectually warns Clevinger that Lieutenant Scheisskopf will hate him if he dares to speak up. Clevinger is confused by the blazing, brutal hatred of the Action Board. They stare at him murderously with intense loathing, even though he has truly done nothing wrong. This is hatred born of power and the ability to abuse it. Yossarian also reinforces the prejudice theme by suggesting that the Action Board hates Clevinger because he is Jewish. It does not matter that Clevinger is actually a non-Jew.

Chapter 9

Hatred 4: Major Major longs to fit in with the crowd and to be one of the guys. From childhood to the army, however, he has never been accepted by his fellow men. They hate him because of his uncanny resemblance to Henry Fonda. They are envious of him for his speedy and undeserved ascension in the ranks. They loathe him for his silly name. Major Major disguises himself in order to play an incognito game of basketball with the enlisted men. The players see through his disguise and purposely beat him up. A blood-thirsty mob, they curse, trample, stone and kick him until he weeps and runs into seclusion.

Chapter 11

Hatred 5: Captain Black is a crabby man who gets a kick out of hating people and causing them grief. His favorite saying is "eat your liver." He gloats when he learns of the dangerous mission to Bologna and cannot wait to "see those bastards' faces" when they find out they must make the hazardous flight. He accuses Major Major of being a detestable communist and sleeps with Natley's whore just to break the poor kid's heart.

Chapter 20

Hatred 6: The chaplain is plagued by self-hatred and the inability to stand up to the people he detests. He fails miserably when he tries to argue with Colonel Cathcart, and the familiar shame he feels almost swallows him up.

Chapter 21

Hatred 7: The rebellious officer Yossarian is a major "black eye" for Cathcart and he detests Yossarian greatly. Most of all, Cathcart loathes his name. "Yossarian" has too many "sss" sounds in it (much like subversive, seditious, insidious, socialist, suspicious, fascist, and communist, he thinks) and he decides it is odious and alien. Cathcart is prejudiced against the ethnic name, for is sounds nothing like the "wholesome" American name, Cathcart.

Chapter 27

Hatred 8: The psychiatrist Major Sanderson analyzes Yossarian's hatred. He says that Yossarian has a morbid aversion to dying and that he resents having to fight and risk his life in war. He notices also that Yossarian subconsciously hates bigots, bullies, snobs and hypocrites. Yossarian disagrees, saying he hates them consciously.

Chapter 28

Hatred 9: Yossarian feels a mixture of love and hatred for his strange roommate, Orr. When the tinkering inventor assembles a tiny valve, Yossarian is incensed to the point of violence. He lashes out at Orr, complaining that Orr is an imbecile and that his tinkering with small things drives him crazy. He says he hates Orr and often thinks seriously about murdering him. Though he detests Orr in such moments of rage, Yossarian nevertheless has a tender feeling of friendship for Orr and worries pitifully when Orr disappears.

Chapter 32

Hatred 10: Yossarian cannot bear his new roommates. Their enthusiasm is completely annoying and Yossarian wants to massacre them. His feelings of hatred build to rage and violence.

Chapter 34

Hatred 11: Yossarian charges up the hill on Thanksgiving, intent on murdering the pranksters at the machine gun emplacements. His rage is uncontrollable. When Nately attempts to intervene, Yossarian ferociously busts the peacemaker's nose. His resentment boils like acid and he is blinded by fury. This is the same sort of rage that motivated Yossarian's fantasies of stabbing the tinkering Orr, massacring his rowdy new roommates, and machine-gunning strangers. The difference, now, is that Yossarian is turning his violent fantasies into furious action.

Chapter 38

Hatred 12: Nately's whore has always hated Yossarian, probably because he broke Nately's nose on Thanksgiving. When Yossarian tells her of Nately's death, she is enraged and savagely tries to kill him in the most disturbing and brutal description of hatred in the novel.

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