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Joseph Heller

THE STORY, continued


Yossarian is finally flying toward Bologna, and he's frightened. He pulls out the wires to his intercom and easily persuades Kid Sampson, the pilot, to turn back- they can't fly without proper communications. Copilot Nately just smiles, Sergeant Knight comes down from the top gun turret, and the two rear gunners start to sing. The party mood evaporates when the men reach the unnaturally quiet camp. The intelligence officers- Chief White Halfoat and Captain Black- are busy stealing liquor; Orr is on rest leave in Rome after having ditched his plane at Genoa. Doc Daneeka is so afraid of disease that he refuses to go into the ocean with Yossarian. Yossarian dons fresh shorts and wanders to the beach alone. A remark about his finding clothes uncomfortable recalls the unfinished story of his nakedness after Avignon.

The quiet beach is eerie. Red pomegranate juice drips out of Yossarian's mouth, and the native mushrooms look like dead things waiting in ambush. He swims until he feels clean, and sleeps until awakened by planes returning from Bologna in perfect formation. He weeps at the irony- he had been so afraid, and apparently cloud cover turned the flights back. Later he learns that the planes had, in fact, bombed Bologna, but there was no flak.

Study the descriptive passages in the last three pages of the chapter- they set a surrealistic tone that makes it seem Yossarian is alone in a mental, emotional, and physical wasteland. Note phrases like these: Doc Daneeka's looking like a "dolorous" buzzard, "cloying yellow stillness," a "primeval lull in which everything green looked black and everything else was imbued with the color of pus." The death-like atmosphere is intensified by mushrooms that look "like lifeless stalks of flesh," by the "bloated gurgle" of the stream, and by the "apathetic moaning" of the ocean. The returning planes awaken Yossarian to "a world boiling in chaos in which everything was in proper order." How might this contradictory comment apply, first to war itself, and secondly to the military approach to war? What accounts for Yossarian's anguish? Guilt for turning back? Pre-vision of deaths to come? Alienation from his squadron? Notice, too, the mid-chapter mention of Orr- how do he and Yossarian compare in terms of bravery? Taking the beach scene as a whole, what kinds of events might it foreshadow?


The squadron operations officers, Captains Piltchard and Wren, rebuke Yossarian for having Kid Sampson turn back, and assign him to McWatt's plane as lead bombardier. Like Piltchard and Wren, Yossarian expects a milk run. He flies straight in as Havermeyer would. Suddenly flak bursts all around him! The second he has released his bombs, he directs McWatt in evasive action. But Aarfy distracts him. As he shoves Aarfy out of the bombardier's bubble, a concussion jars the plane. Sweat gushes from Yossarian as he orders shrieking turns and dives. Another explosion jolts the plane, and Yossarian smells fire. It's Aarfy, still in the bubble, making fun of Yossarian's terror and calmly lighting a pipe! Imagine the rage Yossarian must feel! Nothing fazes Aarfy. Even back in the body of the plane, Aarfy laughs. Flak tears up through the maps, showering the men with confetti, and still Aarfy grins. Despite his rage, Yossarian manages to direct them to a clear patch of sky. Behind them a plane burns while the crew parachutes down, and a whole flight (six planes) from another squadron explodes. Suddenly it occurs to Yossarian to blame the flak on Orr. Orr draws flak like a magnet- and he is back from Rome, flying this mission. Sure enough, when Yossarian finally spots Orr's plane it's limping along, one propeller dead, but holding a steady course. Back at the base Yossarian waits until Orr crash lands, and then packs feverishly for rest leave in Rome. The battle scene is so realistic you can feel yourself there with Yossarian- and Aarfy.


War stories often suggest that one reason men can cope with the danger of war is the sexual freedom that war permits, This chapter places Catch- 22 within that tradition, and also reveals new sides to Yossarian- he begins to look at himself more closely. He's in Rome with Aarfy, Huple, Orr, Kid Sampson, and Hungry Joe. He buys dinner for Luciana, who goes home promising to join him in the morning. Yossarian doesn't believe her, but, to his surprise, Luciana does come in the morning. She opens his windows to the light, and tidies up his mess. Her back may be scarred (she was wounded in an air raid), but her mind is lively. She and Yossarian squabble happily, both retorting "Tu sei pazzo" ("You're crazy") to everything, until they're roaring with laughter. The fun continues as Yossarian fights off Hungry Joe (and camera). Luciana struggles into her clothes, and they race down the stairs past the forlorn Nately. He's broke, having spent thirty-two hours (at $20 per hour) with a prostitute he adores. She doesn't return his love, and he is anguished when she sleeps with other men especially Captain Black, who deliberately chooses her to torment Nately. Luciana gives Yossarian her address; Yossarian tears it up as she had predicted he would. Later he regrets his action, but can no longer find her. Returning to Pianosa on a supply plane, he finds Hungry Joe already there and happy- a sure sign that the number of missions has been raised. The new number is forty; Yossarian has thirty-two. He runs to the hospital, determined never to fly another mission.


Yossarian's resolution doesn't last. After ten days in the hospital he changes his mind, leaves, and flies six more missions for a total of thirty-eight. Then Cathcart raises the number to forty-five, and Yossarian rushes back to the hospital. This should sound familiar- you came into Chapter One with Yossarian in the hospital and missions at forty-five. But the third paragraph- one so short it's easy to miss- points out that something significant happened while Yossarian was on those last six missions: "Being in the hospital was better than being over Bologna or flying over Avignon with Huple and Dobbs at the controls and Snowden dying in back."

As Yossarian sees it, hospital deaths are at least orderly and clean. They're not like Kraft's or Mudd's being blown up in midair, or Snowden's freezing to death in the summertime. Snowden kept saying "I'm cold" and Yossarian kept murmuring the words we all use, "There, there." In the hospital, death is relatively sane. But this time the war intrudes even there, in the person of the soldier in white- the same man you saw in Chapter One. He looks like "an unrolled bandage with a hole in it" for the nurses to take his temperature. He never moans or speaks, and everyone but the Texan avoids him. The nurses scrub his casts and bottles, and Dunbar wonders whether there's anybody in there at all. Yossarian says maybe it's Mudd, the dead man nobody can evict from his tent. The repeated switching of the two bottles baffles everyone. Why not eliminate the middleman and just run the fluid from one bottle to the other? With the soldier in white a visible symbol in front of them, they discuss injustice in the world and the apparent unrelatedness of cause and effect- including how Yossarian has been behind on missions ever since he contracted a venereal disease that hospitalized him before he could finish the first twenty-five. Yossarian's forgeries aren't mentioned in this chapter, but can you see more reason, now, behind what looked like pure practical joking in Chapter One?

In the present, Yossarian still wonders what secret Snowden was trying to tell him- maybe that if people don't kill him, his own body will do him in. Disease reminds him of Doc, and why Doc won't ground him. "Why should I?" Doc asks. He believes that if he says Yossarian is unfit, headquarters will put Yossarian in combat anyway, and send Doc to the Pacific for interfering. Besides, Doc says it's Yossarian's own fault- he could finish his missions if he didn't keep running to the hospital or Rome. Is there any basis for Doc's views? What evidence favors his positions?


In earlier chapters you've noted metaphors and descriptions about seeing. And you have repeatedly glimpsed episodes without seeing them fully. Now a soldier who sees everything twice takes you back in time to Lowery Field, Colorado. It was there that an English doctor taught Yossarian how useful a liver complaint could be. That time it worked ten days. Then, just when Yossarian was about to be released, a patient began screaming that he saw everything twice. Unable to determine what was wrong, the doctors quarantined the whole ward, right through Thanksgiving. Yossarian loved Thanksgiving in the hospital, and wanted to do it again, but the next year found him sharing a California hotel room with Mrs. Scheisskopf. They were arguing about God. In the account, both say that they are atheists. But the God Mrs. Scheisskopf doesn't believe in is just and merciful, and the God Yossarian doesn't believe in is cruel, bungling, and incompetent at running the universe.

Time and place go back a year to Lowery Field. About to be released, Yossarian too shouts, "I see everything twice!" The doctors wheel him in with the first man, and Yossarian imitates him- until the man dies. Then Yossarian shouts, "I see everything once!" A doctor who sees through Yossarian promises not to spoil his games, if Yossarian will let the family of the dead boy visit him. The doctor reasons that medical practice is a business of illusion anyway, and it shouldn't matter to the family what dying boy they visit. He sets the stage, and the family enter. They seem to accept Yossarian as their Giuseppe- or do they? The mother echoes the doctor: "What difference does it make?... He's dying."

The scene parodies the traditional picture of the devoted family at the deathbed, just as the argument between Yossarian and Mrs. Scheisskopf parodies theological debates on the existence of God. Both scenes deal with a perennial theme- if God is good, why do pain and suffering exist in the world? How do you think Yossarian would answer the latter question? Additionally, what do the doctor's views and the family's reactions add to the theme of illusion?


Colonel Cathcart, the mission-increaser, appears at last. Read aloud the catalog of opposites Heller uses to characterize him. It's a set of masterfully balanced sentences, often using alliteration- the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of words, as in "slick, successful, slipshod." Details pile up until one fact becomes crystal clear: Cathcart is obsessed with becoming a general. His obsession creates his own personal Catch-22: how can he show initiative and yet conform?

To advance, Cathcart will even try religion. He calls the chaplain in to see an article in the magazine The Saturday Evening Post about another chaplain who leads prayers in a mission briefing room. Cathcart thinks that if his men pray, he might get into the Post. Bushels of plum tomatoes stacked along the walls distract the chaplain- Cathcart and Korn grow them in the hills to sell to Milo. Cathcart gives a tomato to the chaplain, and requests nonreligious prayers for a tighter bomb pattern. General Peckem says tight patterns make nicer pictures. As the conversation continues, Cathcart is astonished that enlisted men have the same God as officers. His comments about enlisted men parody racial remarks often heard in civil rights discussions of the 1950s another anachronism relating the novel to postwar events. Cathcart does consider enlisted men inferior to officers, and would not want his sister to marry one even if the chaplain's sister is "an enlisted man." The chaplain hints that God might cause a looser flight pattern if Cathcart won't let the enlisted men join in the praying. Cathcart, disgusted, drops the idea. On his way out, the chaplain says he's been worried about Yossarian since Cathcart raised the missions to sixty. "Who?" Cathcart asks in alarm. The name Yossarian is beginning to arouse anxiety! Cathcart dismisses Yossarian's problem, saying, "Tell him to trust in God." How do the reasons for a tight bombing pattern, and Cathcart's concern with the trappings of religion, further the theme of illusion over reality? How would Cathcart react to the theological debate in the last chapter?

NOTE: In the U.S. during World War II, patriotic songs, symbols, movies, and slogans abounded. Billboards proclaimed "Pay Your Taxes, Beat the Axis." There was a popular song based loosely on the exploits of a chaplain at Pearl Harbor- "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." The song "Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer" described the landing of a damaged plane. Does either song title fit a character in the novel?


Have you ever regretted not saying all you wanted to say? That's how the chaplain feels after leaving Colonel Cathcart- he feels he was too timid. He feels worse after meeting Lieutenant Colonel Korn, who, he thinks, belittles him. Do you read Korn's remarks that way, or is the chaplain being oversensitive?

In his tent, the chaplain muses on three types of vision- jamais vu (never seen), deja vu (already seen, having experienced before), and presque vu (almost seen). The ideas tie together in a new way the theme of illusion vs. reality, and symbolism involving vision/seeing. What brings the ideas to the chaplain's mind is his memory of seeing a naked man in a tree at Snowden's funeral- deja vu for him. What makes it presque vu for you?

Whitcomb breaks in to tell the chaplain that the C.I.D. man he's been talking to- clothed in hospital garb- believes the chaplain has been signing documents "Washington Irving" and intercepting Major Major's mail. The C.I.D. man can't reach his superiors because somebody keeps censoring his letters, but the chaplain is being indicted anyway for forgery and for stuffing secret papers into a plum tomato stolen from Colonel Cathcart! Think back a moment to how the "Washington Irving" business began, and how its effects have mushroomed. Is it any wonder the chaplain is overwhelmed by "fogs of possibilities in which he could perceive no glimmer of light"?

Crazy as hiding documents in a tomato sounds, Heller took the idea from real life. In 1948 Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, of spying for the Communists. Chambers (1901-1961) was an American journalist who himself had earlier spied for the Soviet Union. On his farm, he showed investigators a pumpkin containing documents allegedly given to him by Hiss. The case was extremely controversial, and ended in 1950 with Hiss found guilty and imprisoned. Heller's parody is another extension of the novel into postwar years.


This chapter dates Ferrara, Bologna, Avignon, and several other incidents as coming before Cathcart raised the missions to sixty. Glance through the chapter. Note that in the first few pages Cathcart repeatedly writes "Bologna," "Avignon," ???, and "Yossarian!" He is also concerned with "Black Eyes" and "Feathers in My Cap." He is evidently trying to establish some order. The chapter also shows that Cathcart, Korn, Dreedle, and Dreedle's son-in-law, Moodus, do not differ much from Milo. All are war profiteers in some way, though Milo is the most obvious. The theme of illusion vs. reality recurs- everyone believes the farm owned by Korn and Cathcart is the site of orgies, but it's actually isolated and dull.

Description of General Dreedle begins about seven pages into the chapter. Heller places identical words into the mouths of Dreedle and Moodus, showing that Moodus is not blind to Dreedle's use of a sexy companion to tantalize him. Dreedle is understandably curious about Yossarian's being naked when he is about to receive a Distinguished Flying Cross. He gets two possible reasons- Yossarian just doesn't want to wear clothes, or he won't wear them because a man killed over Avignon bled all over him.

The illusion/reality theme recurs- General Peckem of Special Services wants the men to wear dress uniforms into battle to make a good impression. (Is his power over combat matters growing?) The "epidemic of moaning" before Avignon, alluded to earlier, emerges as another incident provoked by Yossarian. It started when he moaned with lust for Dreedle's nurse. The moaning was contagious, like giggling in church or class. It so unnerved the officers in charge that Dreedle singled out Danby and ordered him shot! Only the intervention of Moodus saved the weeping Danby. The scene is so comic that you may even sympathize with the pompous Korn- it's left to him to restore order.


Despite the chapter title, the first two pages are about Snowden and the Avignon mission. These realistic scenes are followed by satiric ones. First, Yossarian refuses to condone Dobbs' plot to kill even the villain Cathcart- perhaps because Dobbs also wants to kill several others, including Yossarian's friend McWatt. Second, the bulk of the chapter humorously reveals how Milo's private empire has spread. In an exhausting trip all over the Mediterranean, Orr and Yossarian give up trying to grasp the intricacies of Milo's business, meanwhile learning that grateful civilians have named him everything from city mayor to Assistant Governor-General. Milo sums up his beliefs in the line, "what's good for the syndicate is good for the country." The satire now includes the industrial and financial worlds as well as the military.

NOTE: Milo's line echoes words spoken by a member of President Dwight Eisenhower's cabinet, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country"- another postwar extension of the novel. Eisenhower was U.S. president from 1953 to 1961.


Nately's and Aarfy's attitudes toward prostitutes are featured in the first part of this chapter. What do you think of the "fun" Aarfy reports from fraternity days? Aarfy is left behind, but Dunbar, Yossarian, and Hungry Joe join Nately in the orgy that follows. The old man who watches like "some satanic" being should sound familiar: in Chapter Thirteen, he wounded Major de Coverley in the eye and then bounded up "like Satan himself" to kiss the major. Now the old man argues with Nately. Do you agree with the old man's expedient politics? How could Nately have asserted his own views- or does Nately have any? Nately can't see why this undignified old man reminds him of his dignified father. Can you? How are their roles similar in relation to Nately?

Finally the old man goes to bed, and Nately sleeps alone on a lumpy sofa. He awakens thinking about his family- they decided he should enlist in the gentlemanly service branch, the Air Corps. For the rest of the chapter, he spends more time with his prostitute's little sister than with her. Throughout the chapter, "Nately's whore" has kept yawning or wandering off. Why do you think she responds so little to Nately's obvious infatuation with her?


Trace the organizational pattern in the first few pages of this chapter. It includes identification of an officer by rank or location, a lengthening list of foods Milo plans to provide, and examples of Milo's power. He can get an uncooperative officer transferred, and can even lure enemy planes and officers into his syndicate! Trace the growth of his business through the war. How does its international character parallel what you know of empires of the past and multinational businesses of today?

The opening paragraph of this chapter is packed with allusions. It first evokes the opening lines of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, "April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land." Eliot's point is that April suggests rebirth, but a dying culture may not want it. "April" and "lilacs" also echo an elegy by American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) in memory of Abraham Lincoln. It begins, "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd." What dead hero might be mourned in Catch-22? As the paragraph continues, you encounter iris (a flower, a part of the eye, or the goddess of the rainbow) and dove (often a symbol of peace). These two words and the final sentence of the paragraph also echo lines from "Locksley Hall" by English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892): "In the spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove; / In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." You may want to think through these allusions. How do they apply to the world of Catch-22-or to Milo Minderbinder?

Later you learn that Milo paints his own initials over emblems standing for Truth, justice, and so on, on planes used by his syndicate. What might this symbolize? The symbolism becomes clear as you learn about Milo's role in the battle over Orvieto, and how he comes to bomb his own base. A contract with the Americans to bomb a bridge and with the Germans to defend it results in the death of Mudd, Yossarian's "dead man," before he can sign in. A similar contract with the Germans (to bomb his own base) offsets his losses on Egyptian cotton. He gets away with maiming and killing Americans because he makes such a huge profit! Milo and Yossarian argue about Milo's responsibility for Mudd's death. How is Milo's point of view similar to that of arms manufacturers who sell to both sides in a conflict?

Milo's deals echo reality. A famous case involves the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the German chemical firm, I. G. Farbenindustrie. just before World War II, Standard Oil agreed not to work on developing synthetic rubber. In exchange, Farbenindustrie promised to keep its petroleum products out of the U.S. Due largely to this deal, the U.S. lagged behind Germany in developing synthetic rubber at the precise time the Japanese were keeping the U.S. from its sources of natural rubber in Southeast Asia. When the deal was exposed, Standard Oil paid a minimal fine and was promptly forgiven- by the American government and by the public.

A new side of Doc Daneeka emerges from the bombing of the squadron- a bravery and compassion that contrast strongly with Milo's unprincipled behavior. (How is Milo like the old man in Rome?) Association again takes you to the Avignon mission, when Doc treated Yossarian for shock. Yossarian, covered with Snowden's blood, had climbed naked out of the plane. The next day Yossarian (still naked) talks with Milo in a tree while the chaplain conducts Snowden's funeral. Milo mourns only his loss on cotton, while Yossarian refers to a tree of life and a tree of knowledge of good and evil. Note the chaplain's actions toward the end of the funeral. He looks toward Yossarian and Milo, presses his fingers against his eyeballs, looks "searchingly" again, and then bows his head. What do you make of his actions? What biblical symbolism is suggested by Yossarian's words and Milo's presence? What might a naked man and a tree suggest?


The chaplain- Captain Albert Taylor Tappman- is portrayed in detail in this chapter. He makes serious efforts to see Major Major and to suppress the inhumane form letters of condolence proposed by Corporal Whitcomb. Before you begin the chapter, pause a moment. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable some people become when they encounter a clergyman in a social setting? What do you think causes this uneasiness? How might a wartime situation add to the stress? In this chapter, you'll see that others' discomfort leads Tappman to think he is a failure as a chaplain. Only a few men- mainly Yossarian and Dunbar- treat him as a regular human being. The chaplain worries about his family excessively. Even his religion gives him no confidence. He worries about everything: Could he have signed "Washington Irving" without realizing it? Is there another kind of vu besides jamais vu, presque vu, and deja vu? What does his vision mean- a naked man and a dark man in a tree during Snowden's funeral?

The "If they pricked him" passage echoes a speech by Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Shylock was a Jewish money-lender hated for his religion and for his occupation. The chaplain is an Anabaptist- neither a Roman Catholic priest answering to "Father" or "Padre," nor a clergyman from a large Protestant denomination. The original Anabaptists arose during the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. They believed that church membership was for adults only, and that a person baptized in infancy should be rebaptized as an adult. (Anabaptist means "baptize again.") Anabaptists stressed private inspiration, so they were never united in politics or doctrine. How would being an Anabaptist contribute to the chaplain's doubts?

The action scenes of this chapter are sadly comical- the chaplain and Major Major narrowly miss each other in the ditch, Captain Flume misinterprets the chaplain's words, Colonel Cathcart loves Whitcomb's form letters. Densely packed details recall characters or events presented earlier: Huple's cat, the plum tomato, the chaplain's presence in the officers' club the night of the fight, the chaplain's desire for dark glasses and a mustache and his leaping out of Major Major's window like the major himself. The chaplain emerges as a troubled man who has difficulty reconciling his religion with everything from Americanism to science. What enables him to continue as a man of God?

Some images in this chapter are religious- for example, the chaplain's falling against an apple tree with his arms outstretched. This suggests both the tree of the cross on which Jesus Christ died, and the tree from Genesis. Art works have often depicted the tree whose fruit was forbidden to Adam and Eve as an apple tree, although its actual title was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Flume is a "voice in the wilderness" like the one described in the Bible as announcing the Messiah (Isaiah 40, Mark 1, John 1). What do the symbols add to the characterization of the chaplain?


Captain Aardvaark- Aarfy- is navigator in Yossarian's B-25. His bizarre attitudes contrast with Nately's genuine love for a specific prostitute, and set Aarfy apart from McWatt and the rest of the crew when Yossarian is wounded on the Parma mission. Recall, too, his refusal to leave the bombardier's compartment on the second Bologna flight (Chapter Fifteen). Is Aarfy a likeable character? Why might the people in your crowd accept or reject him?

Yossarian's wound and his reactions to it are described in language that probably will make you feel as if you were wounded. The blood spreads like a "sea monster" and wriggling "red worms." When Yossarian faints, everything goes "fuzzy behind a film of strawberry-stained gelatin," and he is swallowed up in "a great baritone buzz" of sound. In the hospital, Dunbar trades beds with A. Fortiori to be near Yossarian. The men's interchangeability suggests an underlying attitude toward soldiers- that they are simply items on a government inventory list. How do Nurse Cramer's comments on the ownership of Yossarian's leg reinforce that idea?

NOTE: A fortiori is Latin for "from the stronger." It is a term used in formal logic when one is drawing a second conclusion that can be considered even stronger than the first. For instance, "If a soldier's leg is government property, then the man himself, a fortiori, is just another piece of equipment."


The action continues from the previous chapter, with Yossarian, abetted by Dunbar, making a crude pass at the serious Nurse Sue Ann Duckett. Nurse Duckett, unable physically to "duck" Yossarian, evidently complains- Yossarian is sent to Major Sanderson, the staff psychiatrist. The scene is satiric- but is the satire directed at Sanderson as a person, or as a symbol of a certain school of psychiatric thought? What evidence supports your conclusion?

An abrupt transition introduces Yossarian's second session with Sanderson. Dunbar says, "That's a wonderful dream"; Sanderson cries, "That's a horrible dream!" How do you react to Sanderson's continued insistence that Yossarian is actually A. Fortiori? Could it eventually matter that he thinks Yossarian is Fortiori? Another transition hinges on "nuts," and Yossarian is in the ward talking to Dobbs. Dobbs is ready to shoot Cathcart, "the murderer," but he still wants Yossarian's approval. Yossarian says "wait." More quick transitions introduce scenes with the chaplain, Dunbar, and Sanderson. In his and Yossarian's third session, Sanderson angrily accuses Yossarian of what we would consider normal aversion to danger. Sanderson, however, concludes that Yossarian is certifiably crazy. Yossarian is jubilant, but you guessed it- Sanderson sends A. Fortiori home. Yossarian goes back to combat. When Yossarian later complains that they shouldn't send crazy men on missions, Doc Daneeka responds, "Who else will go?"


After two more missions, Yossarian agrees with Dobbs- Yossarian wants to kill Cathcart. But Dobbs has finished sixty missions, and he now wants to "wait and see." Sergeant Knight tells Yossarian how Orr ditched in the ocean while Yossarian was in the hospital. Orr checked the supplies in the raft, and even started paddling toward Majorca with a "dinky blue oar." Majorca was neutral at the time. Yossarian's dream was to reach neutral Sweden, or the nearer Switzerland. A transition takes you to Orr, tinkering with the stove he built. "I'd like to get this finished for you," he says to Yossarian. Yossarian hasn't flown with Orr since Snowden died. He won't do so now, either, even when Orr begs, "Why don't you ever fly with me?"

Sure enough, Orr is downed again. His crew is rescued, but he floats off in his own raft with his own "toy oar." Should anyone worry about Orr? What kinds of skills does he have? The chapter ends with a report of Yossarian's actions that evening, including how he would break into a smile and look up every time a car door slammed. What is he feeling? How does this description make his feelings more vivid than would a flat statement about grief?


Themes of illusion and injustice reach direct statement in this chapter. Scheisskopf, now a colonel, reports to General Peckem in Rome. Peckem briefs him, explaining that the work doesn't really matter- what matters is to appear to do a lot of it. He delivers his best quips and paradoxes- "People have a right to do anything that's not forbidden by law"; "Dreedle's on our side, and Dreedle is the enemy"- but Scheisskopf is unimpressed. Scheisskopf wants to hold parades. Annoyed, Peckem deliberately sets his two colonels, Scheisskopf and Cargill, at odds with each other. One day, for fun, Peckem suggests they go see Cathcart's squadron in Pianosa. "They'll be bombing a tiny undefended village," he says.

Havermeyer grasps the objective perfectly in Major Danby's briefing on the mission. McWatt, however, objects to bombing unwarned, defenseless civilians. Korn admits that Cathcart doesn't care about the objective- what's wanted is "a good clean aerial photo." How has Peckem's influence trickled down to the squadron?

NOTE: Peckem calls himself a Fortinbras- a character in Shakespeare's Hamlet who takes over after the main characters have killed each other, though he didn't plan things that way. Do you think Peckem is that innocent? What supports your view?


The action of the last chapter continues forward into this one. The time will continue to flow directly forward for the rest of the novel, with few detours. Dunbar, you hear, obeyed his own principles on the last mission- he dumped his bombs past the village. Yossarian is again in the air with McWatt and Aarfy. His mind wanders to Avignon, and you learn that he treated Snowden for "the wrong wound"- a melon-sized wound in his thigh. The story is not yet complete. Yossarian's attention lurches back to McWatt, who is crazily flying up and down the contours of mountains. Enraged, Yossarian fights gravity to climb into the flight deck. He starts to strangle McWatt, stopping only when McWatt flies sensibly. Later Yossarian feels guilty. Should he, or should McWatt feel guilty?

The scene switches to the beach, where Yossarian and Nurse Duckett are having what sounds like a genuine love affair. One thing they have in common is despising Aarfy. The beach is pleasant, but do you remember how it appeared to Yossarian in Chapter Fourteen? That sense of foreboding returns when Yossarian imagines drowned bodies, and glances at Elba, the island eight miles off where Napoleon died. Then, suddenly, in a brutally realistic scene, McWatt hurtles playfully down to buzz the beach, Kid Sampson leaps to his feet on a raft near shore, and one of McWatt's propellers slices the Kid in half. Blood sprinkles the beach; horror overtakes everyone. Two parachutes drift down as they watch- the pilots McWatt was training. Doc was listed as a passenger, too, but he's standing there watching. Yossarian grasps McWatt's intention before the others, and runs forward, imploring McWatt to come down. But McWatt dips his wings and flies into a mountain. McWatt's suicide could be seen as honorable, yet apparently Yossarian does not see it that way. In contrast with army attitudes, how does Yossarian value the life of one man?


Doc Daneeka is officially dead, as a supposed passenger in McWatt's plane. Ostracized, he broods, a "sepulchral figure roosting" on a stool in the medical tent. In Chapter Fourteen he "roosted dolorously... like a shivering turkey buzzard." How else does that chapter connect with Chapter Thirty? Meanwhile, back home, Mrs. Daneeka grieves when notified that Doc was killed in action. Then a letter from him arrives, and she writes back. But bureaucracies move on and she starts to profit- she is given insurance payments, pension benefits, burial allowances, a cemetery plot. Her letter comes back, stamped "KILLED IN ACTION." Another scrawl, almost illegible, arrives from Doc, but so does a form letter from Colonel Cathcart. So Mrs. Daneeka moves.

Many women suffered and sacrificed during World War II, running the home, standing in long lines for consumer goods in short supply, and holding down full-time jobs in occupations once reserved to men. "Rosie the Riveter" was a popular image. Another image, for a minority of women, was "Allotment Annie." Quick marriages were the order of the day, and some young women married GI's for the $50 that wives received monthly and for the men's $10,000 life-insurance policies. One such "Annie" specialized in combat pilots, who had a high mortality rate. Another married several sailors at once. Her game ended when two of her husbands met by chance in a pub in England, and compared pictures of their wives.


Signs of death and change pile up. Kid Sampson's legs wash up on the beach and rot. Four "frisky" twenty-one-year-old officers, who remind Yossarian of "Donald Duck's nephews," move into his tent. Orr's stove warms the tent, but there is no privacy now for Yossarian and Nurse Duckett. Captain Flume has left the woods and returned to his trailer. Chief White Halfoat is planning to move to the hospital to die of pneumonia. The "dead" Doc Daneeka can't practice medicine, and Dr. Stubbs is "standing up for principle" and grounding people. Yossarian's roommates get rid of "the dead man" by dumping Mudd's things into the bushes. Why does Yossarian feel so old at age twenty-eight? Why do you think dumping Mudd's belongings never even occurred to him?


Yossarian is in Rome buying presents for Nurse Duckett while hunting for Luciana and "banging" other women. What does use of the slang word, bang, suggest about the degree of satisfaction sex is bringing Yossarian? The scene shifts to an apartment where a group of military big shots are detaining Nately's whore. Dunbar, Nately, Dobbs, and Hungry Joe, acting as a rescue party, simply throw the big shots' clothes out the window. Without their uniforms, what are these officers? Finally, Nately's whore sleeps eighteen hours and wakes up loving him. All his "working girl" needed was a good night's sleep! Trouble starts anew, however, when she discovers that Nately expects her to give up her freedom again, to him. The "Tu sei pazzo" refrain echoes Yossarian's experience with Luciana (see Chapter Sixteen).


Milo provides an opulent Thanksgiving dinner and quantities of alcohol that turn the evening more riotous than a New Year's Eve party. Yossarian, half berserk with fear when some of the men start shooting antiaircraft guns, punches Nately in the nose. The saturnalia ends with Nately's nose broken, and Yossarian, Dunbar, the chaplain, and Hungry Joe checked into the hospital. The chaplain has invented "Wisconsin shingles." Like Major Major in Chapter Nine, he "had sinned and it was good." Return of a soldier in white terrorizes everyone. Is it the same man? Or is he some kind of listening device? Things are coming unglued; reversals abound. Medical men wear guns; the orderlies who remove the soldier in white are M.P.'s. Nurse Duckett has changed her mind about Yossarian, but tells him the rumor that "they" are going to "disappear" Dunbar. Neither knows what that means. So what is there to be thankful for?


Earlier, you saw Milo's power expand into civilian politics and international deals. His trade goods now include artifacts of Western culture from the "Piltdown man" to "Cedars from Lebanon." His slogan has shifted from "everyone has a share" to "what's fair is fair." Still, Milo sees it as a blot on his record that he has flown only five missions. Just how does he persuade Cathcart to bump the number of missions to eighty, and have the men fly them in Milo's name? When there's a conflict with business, how loyal to Yossarian does Milo remain? Is it comic when Milo's ambitions send Dobbs and Nately to their deaths at La Spezia? "What's fair is fair" for whom?


The chaplain experiences a personal hell in this chapter. His morale hits bottom when he is overcome with grief for Nately and the other dead men. Then he is arrested and taken to a literal basement, where anonymous interrogators play language games, as in Clevinger's trial in Chapter Eight. The "evidence" against him is patently insane, but accusation means guilt, as in the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. When the chaplain recognizes Yossarian's handwriting on one of the forgeries, he has the loyalty which Milo didn't. The situation stumps him with its immoral, nonlogical "logic," and he takes a stand. Loyalty to his friend is a higher value than obedience to insane authorities. He accepts his role as scapegoat. You learn too, after the scenes with the chaplain, that Doc Daneeka wasn't so crazy after all- Dr. Stubbs is being sent to the Pacific for grounding men when he thought it right to do so.


Bureaucratic infighting has led to an ultimate lunacy. General Peckem has replaced General Dreedle in combat operations, but Wintergreen (now an ex-sergeant) says that combat operations have been subordinated to Special Services- where Peckem left Scheisskopf in charge. Scheisskopf, now a lieutenant general, issues exactly the order you'd expect: "He wants everybody to march!"


After Nately's death, Yossarian refuses to fly any more than the seventy-one missions he's already flown. Korn asks who he thinks he is- Achilles?

NOTE: Achilles was the bravest Greek in the Trojan War according to Homer's Iliad. He is reported in that epic poem as angry because of a personal insult. He sulks in his tent. He fights again only when honor demands it- After the Trojans kill his friend Patroclus.

Korn says that Major Major can't deal with Yossarian because the major has disappeared (like Dunbar?), so Korn gives Yossarian leave to soften him up. Yossarian goes to Rome to tell Nately's whore that Nately is dead. She already knew Yossarian broke Nately's nose. By extension, she blames him for Nately's death. The scenes that follow acquire an air of the surreal as she (and sometimes her kid sister) turn up everywhere to attack Yossarian with knives- in the apartment, on the streets of Rome, even in Pianosa. With Hungry Joe piloting, Yossarian finally drops her by parachute behind enemy fines. Most readers consider it impossible for her to travel so quickly. Some see her as symbolizing the Furies or avenging spirits of Roman mythology. Others see her as a symbol of Yossarian's own conscience. What is your view? What evidence favors your interpretation?

Yossarian's refusal to fly more missions has made him a sort of hero. Man after man pops up from the bushes in the dark, to see how he's doing- Appleby, Havermeyer, even one of Yossarian's roommates. It's as if he represents what they wish they dared to do. The chapter ends with Captain Black reporting that the M.P.'s have driven the prostitutes out of the Rome apartment, and Yossarian pleading to know what has become of Nately's whore's kid sister. Since Joseph Heller is fond of symbolism, could she represent all children affected by World War II?


In this chapter grimness and horror build, without relief. Milo doesn't sympathize with the way Yossarian is defying the system, but he agrees to go AWOL to Rome to help Yossarian find "kid sister." An old woman tells Yossarian that both the girl and the old man are gone. She accepts Catch-22, explaining that it means "they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing." In contrast, Yossarian seems now to believe that Catch-22 isn't real unless you willingly play victim. Milo uses his police connections for Yossarian, but when Milo gets a whiff of a tobacco deal, he leaves Yossarian on his own.

Yossarian's walk through the streets of Rome follows an archetype- a symbolic pattern so true to human psychological experience that writers in all eras of history have used it. His walk is a nightmarish descent into a kind of hell. It is surrealistic, for Yossarian has entered another level of reality. Similarly, in Greek mythology, Orpheus descends into Hades to bring back his wife, Eurydice. In The Odyssey Odysseus visits the underworld; so does Aeneas in The Aeneid. The city of Rome, "the Eternal City," was the center of the ancient world. It is still the center of Roman Catholicism. It connects with the Christian symbolism of the "Inferno" section of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). Dante's Inferno (Hell) is a gradually descending funnel, with sinners of different types punished appropriately at different levels. Hypocrites, for instance, are weighed down by the lead of their own pretenses, and traitors are frozen in blocks of ice because they were unfeeling. Words above the entrance to the Inferno read, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here." What hope is left for Yossarian?

Yossarian's hell begins, according to one scholar, when he walks out of the police station into the "tomblike street." Watch for additional mood-setting language as you read the account of his walk.

Yossarian's bleak inner world is reflected by a bizarre outer world. His surroundings seem distorted and filled with misery. A soldier is in convulsions, a man beats a dog with a stick, another man beats a boy. He experiences deja vu as he wanders, seeing police manhandling a civilian and an old woman pursuing a younger one. Wet and cold, he finally reaches the officers' apartment, only to discover the corpse of Michaela- a prostitute Aarfy has raped and thrown out the window. What previous scenes now seem to have foreshadowed Aarfy's actions? Military police storm the apartment, but in an ironic reversal it isn't Aarfy they arrest, for murder- it's Yossarian, for going AWOL. Tension builds as more M.P.'s arrive before the flight to Pianosa, and more join Yossarian there. Finally ten M.P.'s, with thundering footsteps, march Yossarian to Colonel Cathcart. In an anti-climax that leaves one weak with relief, Cathcart smiles and says, "We're sending you home."


Yossarian hasn't won, of course. Cathcart and Korn will send him home if he accepts their deal: go as a hero and praise us to the skies. Otherwise they'll court-martial him.

NOTE: Did you catch Cathcart's use of the words of Jesus, "He that is not with me is against me" (Matthew 12:30), and Korn's telling Yossarian he and Cathcart are "your country"? Just who do these men think they are?

Yossarian accepts the deal, even though Cathcart and Korn blatantly admit that their purpose is to promote their careers. In what sense is the fact that they offer him a deal a sign that his rebellion has succeeded? How does Yossarian's insight, in Rome- that you have to cooperate to make Catch-22 work- fit in here? Why can't he refuse? What are the implications of the shift to first names- "Blackie" Korn, "Chuck" Cathcart, "John" or "Yo-Yo" Yossarian? Yossarian seems to feel no guilt as he leaves the office, but Nately's whore (his "conscience"?) knifes him when he's barely through the door.


Yossarian "descends" to a hellish place again, this time under anesthesia in a surreal operating room where a surgeon, a clerk, and a doctor debate what to do with him. He keeps waking up to see different people- a mean-faced C.I.D. man, Aarfy (who has literally gotten away with murder), the chaplain. The chaplain tells Yossarian the official story- Yossarian saved Cathcart and Korn from a Nazi assassin. Even though Yossarian refused, earlier, to kill Cathcart, he can't stand being credited with saving the man's life. He tells the chaplain he won't keep the hero deal. That leaves two choices- fly more missions, which will probably kill him, or desert and let himself be caught. Do you see any other alternatives? Yossarian says, "They've got all my pals, haven't they? The only ones left are me and Hungry Joe." But Hungry Joe is dead, too- smothered by Huple's cat, as he had dreamed.

That night Yossarian is sleepless and cold, and the cold reminds him of Snowden's death. He relives every gory detail, and you share his horror when Snowden's organs slither out "in a soggy pile." Snowden's secret was that "Man was matter.... The spirit gone, man is garbage."

NOTE: Early in this chapter Yossarian says he was born "in a state of innocence." His nakedness in the tree during Snowden's funeral also suggested the innocence of Adam before his sin. What has happened by now to Yossarian's innocence- or his spirit, whether you call it "soul," "conscience," or something else? Until he repudiates the deal, who owns Yossarian's spirit?


In the hospital, Yossarian discusses ethics with Major Danby. Danby sees the hypocrisy around him, but perseveres because the war represents a larger issue for him. That doesn't help Yossarian. Nor can he get practical aid from Milo or Wintergreen- they have closed ranks with Cathcart for their own advantage. Desertion seems the only route left. Then the chaplain brings the astonishing news that Orr is alive in Sweden! He rowed there, "a miracle of human endurance." The alternative Orr had tried to offer him flashes clear to Yossarian (why does he tell Danby to go get crab apples and horse chestnuts?). He announces, "I'm going to run away." Yossarian says he is running to rather than from responsibility, but some readers believe that he is simply saving his own cowardly hide. Others think he has learned something about the true value of life. What do you think? The chaplain approves, but he himself is not going to run. Instead he plans to persevere and triumph over the Captain Blacks of his world. Yossarian starts to run- and Nately's whore takes one more stab at him. She misses by inches, and he is off. Some readers think Yossarian doesn't actually go anywhere; that his decision is purely a symbolic one. What do you think? Does he actually leave the base to begin a journey to Sweden? What evidence can you point to in support of your view?



ECC [Catch-22 Contents] []

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