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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 12: BOLOGNA

Summary

Cathcart has volunteered his men for the missions to Bologna. It begins to rain and the mission is postponed. The men do not want to go because they fear they will be killed. They begin to hate the bomb line. At one time, Yossarian asks Corporal Snark to put laundry soap in the sweet potatoes so that all the men get diarrhea and the mission will be postponed.

Wintergreen tries to sell stolen cigarette lighters to Yossarian. Wintergreen considers this his job. He believes that it is Yossarian’s job to go to Bologna, and die, if necessary.

Yossarian gets drunk at the officer’s club, and Dunbar has to help him get back to camp. Returning from the club they have a small accident when Halfoat’s jeep turns over. When they reach the camp, they hear Joe screaming because he has had a nightmare. The rain stops.


In the middle of the night, Yossarian moves the bomb line up over Bologna. The mission is canceled as Cathcart believes that the Allies have captured Bologna.

Notes

In this chapter, we see the men completely demoralized. Cathcart has volunteered to send his men on a very dangerous mission. He does not care for his men, and is only promoting his interests by volunteering them for the mission. Luckily for Yossarian and his friends the rain begins. But it will take more than that to cancel the mission. In this situation, it is Yossarian who plays God, first causing the mission to be postponed due to food poisoning, and finally by moving the bomb line.

One could condemn Yossarian’s behavior as unethical and unpatriotic, but in the world of Catch-22, one is unsure where to draw the line when it comes to ethics and patriotism. He distrusts his commanding officer just as much as he distrusts the Germans. Dunbar keeps saying that "there is no God." God has been replaced by brutal, heartless commanding officers. For Dunbar there seems to be no chance of salvation. Yossarian begins to play God by defying his superior officers. Joe’s nightmare is not just a sign of the sickness and sense of gloom present in the camp, but is also a portent of things to come.

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