Catch 22

Wythe: Winter 1946

I am finally reading Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. I love this dialogue between the overzealous and immature Nately and the elderly Italian man in a brothel as it puts many contemporary issues into perspective:

“America is the strongest and most prosperous nation on earth,” Nately informed [the ederly Italian man] with lofty fervor and dignity. “And the American fighting man is second to none.”

“Exactly,” agreed the old man pleasantly, with a hint of taunting amusement. “Italy, on the other hand, is one of the least prosperous nations on earth. And the Italian fighting man is probably second to all. And that’s exactly why my country is doing so well in this war while your country is doing so poorly.”

. . . “But Italy was occupied by the Germans and is now being occupied by us. You don’t call that doing well, do you?”

“But of course I do,” explained the old man cheerfully. “The Germans are being driven out, and we are still here. In a few years you will be gone, too, and we will still be here. You see, Italy is really a very poor and weak country, and that’s what makes us so strong. Italian soldiers are not dying any more. But American and German soldiers are. I call that doing extremely well. Yes, I am quite cetain that Italy will survive this war and still be in existence long after you own country has been destroyed.”

. . . “I don’t believe anything you tell me,” Nately replied, with a bashful mitigating smile. “The only thing I do believe is that America is going to win the war.”

“You put so much stock in winning the wars,” the grubby iniquitous old man scoffed. “The real trick lies in losing wars, in knowing which wars can be lost. Italy has been losing wars for centuries, and just see how splendidly we’ve done nonetheless. France wins wars and is in a continual state of crisis. Germany loses and prospers. Look at our own recent history. Italy won a war in Ethiopia and promptly stumbled into serious trouble. Victory gave us such insane delusions of grandeur that we helped start a world war we hadn’t a chance of winning. But now that we are losing again, everything has taken a turn for the better, and we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated.”

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3 Comments

Filed under Digressions, Literature

3 responses to “Catch 22

  1. ilde

    Siempre es un placer leerte, cuidate. Un abrazo estepario.

  2. Ilde,

    El placer es mio. Take care of your donkeys, they may be in danger!!!! I heard some one has an eye on them.

  3. Pingback: Grave Error » Noruwei no Mori

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