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CHAPTER 6: HUNGRY JOE
Hungry Joe is an "emaciated wretch" who hungers not only for food, but also for women. He constantly tries to take photographs of nude girls. He tries to convince girls to pose for him by claiming that he is a photographer, working for Life magazine. However, his snaps never come out, either because he forgets to put film in the camera or turn on lights or remove the lens cover. Prostitutes were only too delighted to pose for him.
Hungry Joe was a war hero who had flown six combat tours of duty more than any other in the Air Force. Every night he is not sent on a mission, he has nightmares. As soon as he is put back in combat he is relieved. He then settles down into "a normal state of terror."
Yossarian thinks of Kraft who had been killed when Yossarian led his team of bombardiers a second time over Ferrara. Captain Flume, the public relations officer, who shares a trailer with Halfoat, lives in mortal dread of him. One night Halfoat threatens to slit open Flume’s throat. Though he is only joking, Flume takes the threat seriously, and is unable to sleep peacefully. Orr attacks Appleby with his paddle while the two are playing a game of Ping-Pong. It sets off a chain reaction in which Appleby punches Halfoat, who in turn busts Colonel Moodus in the nose.
Hungry Joe is "crazy" both about girls and about the war. Heller’s description of Joe in a "normal state of terror" is a grimly ironic one. Terror is not generally a "normal state," but in the time of war it becomes one. Almost all the men suffer from some sort of insecurity or have some desperate need which has to be fulfilled. Joe has nightmares and is obsessed with photographing naked women; Kraft wants to be liked; and Flume fears that his room-mate will kill him. In a crazy world, crazy things are bound to happen. We have Orr attacking Appleby with a paddle because he cannot bear to lose to Appleby at Ping-Pong. Dreedle, who is Moodus’s father-in-law, derives sadistic pleasure from watching his son-in-law being beaten up.