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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 3: HAVERMAYER

Summary

Yossarian imagines that there is a dead man in his tent. He complains to sergeant Towser about it, but the sergeant refuses to acknowledge the existence of the dead man. Yossarian tries to appeal directly to the squadron commander, Major Major; but the Major evades him by jumping out of the office window each time Yossarian comes to meet him.

Orr tells Yossarian that he walks about with crab apples in his cheeks because he wants to get big apple cheeks. Yossarian cannot understand why Orr wants big cheeks.

Daneeka tells Yossarian to accept life as it is: to "smile and make the best of it" as Havermeyer does. Havermeyer is a lead bombardier like Yossarian. He never takes evasive action while going into the target, and never misses. By comparison, Yossarian does not give a damn whether he hits the target. His only aim is to stay alive for as long as possible.


One night after Havermeyer has fired a shot at a field mouse, Hungry Joe comes running out toward him and fires shots into Havermeyer’s tent. In the dark, Hungry Joe falls into an open trench, and is discovered the next morning amid snakes, rats, and spiders. Havermeyer insists that Hungry Joe is crazy.

Notes

There is no dead man in Yossarian’s tent. It is actually the belongings of Mudd, who had died while on a mission where he had flown alongside Yossarian, which are in the tent. It is an indication of Yossarian’s feeble state of mind that he sees the dead man instead of his belongings. The figures of authority, Sergeant Towser and Major Major, try to avoid Yossarian because they are afraid of his questions, and are unable to answer him honestly. They are examples of the callous and devil-may- care attitude of the bureaucracy.

This chapter seems to confirm our growing fears about the state of mind of each pilot. If Orr’s behavior is inexplicable, Havermeyer’s are also irrational. The highly tense nature of their work has driven them to the edge of complete insanity. Either Havermeyer seems to get a thrill out of living dangerously, or he does not care enough about his own life to be more circumspect, or he is a brave man, willing to risk everything for his country.

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