“Don’t you have any principles?” “Of course not.”

“But,” Nately cried out in disbelief, “you’re a turncoat! A time-server! A shameful, unscrupulous opportunist!”

“I am a hundred a seven years old,” the old man reminded him suavely.

“Because its better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knee,” Nately retorted with triumphant and lofty conviction. “I guess you’ve heard that saying before.”

“Yes, I certainly have,” mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. “But, I’m afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one’s feet than die on one’s knees. That is the way the saying goes.”

(Catch-22, pages 245-7)

The above passages from “Nately’s Old Man” in Catch-22 leapt out from the recesses of my overly educated brain when I heard the Coast Guard officer verbally thrash the cowardly captain who abandoned his sinking luxury vessel, going down with women and children and a hull stuffed with fuel in a protected environmental region and an endangered species breeding area.

Just thought I’d share… maybe someone else heard Joseph Heller’s old lecherous Italian man in the behavior and justifications of the sinking ship’s captain.

Full Coverage


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