“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller – Chapter 1

You can download the book from my google drive. It is in .doc format which is convenient for highlighting and making notes.

Teacher Lee has shared a link with some curious facts about the author and the book.

Please, share your thoughts, ideas, questions on the first chapter of the book in the comments. You can also post the notes you are writing while preparing for the meeting. 

Please, choose your literature circle role here

The description of the roles/templates you can use while preparing for the meeting:
Group Discussion Leader
Passage Person
Word Master
Culture Collector



  1. In the class, we wondered what the phrase “faulty anode in an I.B.M machine” meant. This is what I found in a Google search. 
    “Before the era of desktop computers and laptops, the clients for IBM’s huge mainframe computers were mostly large corporations and government agencies such as the Army.
    Only around the turn of the 21st century was it revealed that IBM subsidiary Dehomag had sold punched card equipment and data processing technology to Nazi Germany, and that the equipment was used to help administer the systematic genocide of the Jews.
    That a marine mammal specialist from Harvard would have been sent to the front with the Medical Corps because of a malfunctioning anode in a computer is another example of the arbitrariness of fate in these men’s (and, by implication, everyone’s) lives.”
    So I think the phrase means a malfunction in the computer when processing the transfer of the specialist. 

    1. I just read the first chapter about the “faulty anode”.  He is facetiously saying that a computer glitch (or operator data entry error) had accidentally sent a whale expert to be with the dying colonel.

  2. In electricity and chemistry, we talk about electron flow (electricity) and ion flow (chemistry).  Electrons and ions are charged particles (+ or -).  Negatively charged particles are called anions and positively charged particles are called cations.

    Electrodes are battery terminals (posts or connection points).  The positive electrode is called the anode, and the negative electrode is called the cathode.

    Cations are attracted to and flow towards the cathodeAnions are attracted to and flow towards the anode.  These flows cause electrical current to flow or chemical corrosion to occur.

    A bad anode simply means that there was an open circuit in an IBM computer and electrical current ceased flowing due to a break in the electrical cable.

  3. Thank you for your explanation, Teacher Lee.
    I also wanted to ask you about the meaning of this sentence. I don’t quite understand the meaning of the highlighted phrase:

    The colonel was in Communications, and he was kept busy day and night transmitting glutinous messages from the interior into square pads of gauze which he sealed meticulously and delivered to a covered white pail that stood on the night table beside his bed.

    1. Sounds like he was in a hospital with some illness that produced a lot of phlegm (mucus coughed up from lungs to throat to mouth).  He would then spit out this phlegm into small thin pads of gauze (bandage material), then carefully “ball it up” to prevent spillage, and then he would toss this mucous waste into the trash can beside his hospital bed.

      The author is being facetious by comparing his disgusting sickness routine (spitting up phlegm and putting it in the trash can) to his job in communciations (transmitting messages to a recipient).

      transmitting messages to a recipient = transporting wads of mucous waste to a trash can
      interior (of his body)

      Does this sound right?

  4. Out chat from Zoom:

    18:05:40 From Diana Yarmolinska : The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him.
    18:07:17 From neuromantic : t
    18:11:56 From Vasanth : c
    18:16:28 From Ivan Korjavin : sorry, brb soon
    18:19:06 From Diana Yarmolinska : He sent shudders of annoyance scampering up ticklish spines, and everybody fled from him-everybody but the soldier in white, who had no choice. The soldier in white was encased from head to toe in plaster and gauze. He had two useless legs and two useless arms. He had been smuggled into the ward during the night, and the men had no idea he was among them until they awoke in the morning and saw the two strange legs hoisted from the hips, the two strange arms anchored up perpendicularly, all four limbs pinioned strangely in air by lead weights suspended darkly above him that never moved. Sewn into the bandages over the insides of both elbows were zippered lips through which he was fed clear fluid from a clear jar. A silent zinc pipe rose from the cement on his groin and was coupled to a slim rubber hose that carried waste from his kidneys and dripped it efficiently into a clear, stoppered jar on the floor. When the jar on the floor was full, the jar feeding his elbow was empty, and the two were simply switched
    18:19:29 From Diana Yarmolinska : quickly so that the stuff could drip back into him. All they ever really saw of the soldier in white was a frayed black hole over his mouth.
    18:23:42 From Diana Yarmolinska : Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means-decent folk-should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk-people without means.
    18:27:59 From neuromantic : this is the link of the audiobook on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Q3UsA3F-k&t=1512s
    18:28:04 From Vasanth : Residential schools have Chaplain.
    18:28:21 From Thein Lin Aung : Amorously
    18:28:48 From Vasanth : Amour might derived from French?
    18:29:21 From neuromantic : amor in Spanish means love
    18:29:29 From Thein Lin Aung : Patriotism
    18:29:55 From Vasanth : c
    18:31:31 From Thein Lin Aung : Stifling
    18:42:17 From Diana Yarmolinska : All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were kept in residence in wards of their own. It was a monotonous job, and Yossarian was disappointed to learn that the lives of enlisted men were only slightly more interesting than the lives of officers. After the first day he had no curiosity at all. To break the monotony he invented games. Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a, an and the. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt, and in just about every case left a message far more universal. Soon he was proscribing parts of salutations and signatures and leaving the text untouched. One time he blacked out all but the salutation “Dear Mary” from a letter, and at the bottom he wr
    18:42:26 From Vasanth :
    18:43:05 From Vasanth : t
    18:43:06 From Diana Yarmolinska : he wrote, “I yearn for you tragically. R. O. Shipman, Chaplain, U.S. Army.” R. O. Shipman was the group chaplain’s name. When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks of his wrist as though he were God. Catch-22 required that each censored letter bear the censoring officer’s name. Most letters he didn’t read at all. On those he didn’t read at all he wrote his own name. On those he did read he wrote, “Washington Irving.” When that grew monotonous he wrote, “Irving Washington.” Censoring the envelopes had serious repercussions, produced a ripple of anxiety on some ethereal military echelon that floated a C.I.D. man back into the ward posing as a patient. They all knew he was a C.I.D. man because he kept inquiring about an officer named Irving or Washington and because after his first day there he wouldn’t censor letters. He found them too monotonous.
    18:51:53 From neuromantic : write
    18:53:32 From Vasanth : c
    18:54:41 From neuromantic : t
    18:56:16 From Thein Lin Aung : T
    18:57:51 From Diana Yarmolinska : There was a urologist for his urine, a lymphologist for his lymph, an endocrinologist for his endocrines, a psychologist for his psyche, a dermatologist for his derma; there was a pathologist for his pathos, a cystologist for his cysts, and a bald and pedantic cetologist from the zoology department at Harvard who had been shanghaied ruthlessly into the Medical Corps by a faulty anode in an I.B.M. machine and spent his sessions with the dying colonel trying to discuss Moby Dick with him.
    19:00:27 From Vasanth : Chinese location?
    19:01:15 From Ivan Korjavin : to put by trickery into an undesirable position
    19:01:40 From Ivan Korjavin : : to put aboard a ship by force often with the help of liquor or a drug
    19:02:37 From Vasanth : it is in the battery?
    19:04:04 From Ivan Korjavin : bios?
    19:10:25 From neuromantic : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Q3UsA3F-k&t=1512s

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