Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.
This passage occurs in Chapter 41 during the final description of Snowden’s death, in which Snowden’s entrails spill out of his stomach and onto the floor. Snowden’s death causes Yossarian to realize that, without the spirit, man is nothing but matter. Yossarian feels cold, which allows him to identify with Snowden; in Snowden’s entrails, Yossarian can see the prediction of his own death. The final sentence of this passage, “Ripeness is all,” contains a small message of hope, implying that man can, for a brief period, be truly alive. It is this kind of ripeness that Yossarian clings to by trying to keep himself alive and, eventually, by deserting the army.