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CHAPTER 30: DUNBAR
While on the mission to the Italian village, Yossarian does not bother where he drops his bombs, and Dunbar drops his bombs hundreds of yards past the village. Though McWatt is a good pilot, Yossarian does not enjoy flying with him, because McWatt will fly his plane too low for the thrill. On one occasion, Yossarian loses his nerve and threatens to kill McWatt if he does not take the plane higher.
McWatt never misses an opportunity to fly low over the beach of Pianosa. Yossarian and Duckett spend the evenings together on the beach. They have begun a physical relationship, much to the disapproval of Nurse Cramer, who does not like Yossarian.
One day, while McWatt is flying low above the beach, Sampson reaches up from his raft, and the next instant, the propeller of McWatt’s plane has sliced away the upper half of his body. People on the beach start screaming and running away. McWatt takes his plane higher and allows the two trainee pilots on board to bail out. As Yossarian realizes what McWatt is planning, he pleads with him to come down. But, McWatt dips his plane’s wings in salute and flies into a mountain.
Cathcart raises the number of missions to sixty-five.
Dunbar risks facing a court-martial for deliberately dropping his bombs beyond the Italian village. Dunbar prefers risking his own position to destroying villagers and their homes.
McWatt becomes scary for Yossarian. Yossarian believes no one has a right to take risks with someone else’s life. Until now, McWatt has been a good but irresponsible pilot. After Sampson’s death, McWatt learns what it is to accept responsibility. Tragically and ironically, McWatt learns that life is important and that necessary risks need not be taken the instant before he commits suicide. In death, as in life, McWatt remains the great American showman, going off in a blaze of glory.
The deaths of Sampson and McWatt overshadow the fact that Yossarian has a new woman in his life, Nurse Duckett. It turns out that Duckett is not as puritanical as she first appears. Yossarian, seems to have found some sort of female companionship.