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A Trick That Never Fails "act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of"

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A Trick That Never Fails "act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of"

September 30, 2009 - 14:14

In Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 the anti-hero Yossarian a bombardier in World War II is in big trouble for failing to complete his mission as ordered, going back over a target a second time, blowing up the target but in so doing causing the fiery death of the crew of another bomber. Colonel Cathcart, his group commander, angrily confronts Yossarian in the hanger after the mission.

The exchange goes like this:

"I don't give a damn about the men or the airplane. It's just that it looks lousy on the report. How am I going to cover up something like this in the report".

"Why don't you give me a medal?" Yossarian suggested timidly.

"You'll be lucky if we don't give you a court-martial," said Cathcart.

After a brief exchange Cathcart feels stymied.

"But what are we going to do?” Colonel Cathcart exclaimed with distress. “The others are all waiting outside.”

“Why don’t we give him a medal?” Colonel Korn proposed. “You know, that might be the answer - to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

“Do you think it will work?” said Cathcart.

"I'm sure it will. And let's promote him to Captain, too. Just to make certain."

"All right," Colonel Cathcart decided. "We'll give him a medal for being brave enough to go around twice over the target. And we'll make him Captain, too."

Colonel Korn reached for his hat.

"Exit smiling," he joked, and put his arm around Yossarian's shoulder as they stepped outside the door.