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Free Study Guide-Catch-22 by Joseph Heller-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 38: KID SISTER

Summary

Following Nately’s death, Yossarian marches backward with his gun on his hip and refuses to fly any more missions. When Yossarian breaks the news of Nately’s death to Nately’s girlfriend in Rome, she attacks him and tries to stab him with a potato peeler. She kicks Yossarian in the groin and throws a glass ash tray and vase at him. She tries to stab him with a bread- knife. Yossarian escapes from the house where she works and rushes out into the street. But everywhere he goes she follows him. She is even waiting at the military airport in Pianosa and tries to kill Yossarian when he steps off the plane. Yossarian has her flown back to Rome, but she turns up again near his tent. Finally, Yossarian and Joe fly over enemy territory and drop her, with a parachute on to her back, behind enemy lines.

Appleby meets Yossarian and tells him about the dangers of refusing to fly any more missions. Yossarian asks Havermeyer to join him in his protest against Cathcart, but Havermeyer refuses because he wants to stay in the reserves and get five hundred dollars a year when the war is over.


During the day, the soldiers at Pianosa avoid meeting Yossarian, but at night men keep popping out of the darkness to ask Yossarian about how he is faring. Yossarian hears from Captain Black that the prostitutes in Rome, including Nately’s and her kid sister, have been thrown into the street by the American military police.

Notes

Yossarian finally resorts to an open means of protest against Cathcart’s orders. After Nately’s death, he realizes that something needs to be done about the situation, and he refuses to fly any more missions. None of the other men join in his protest, but they all privately, support him. The others are too afraid to come out openly against Cathcart. Thus Yossarian assumes the mantle of a leader though no one follows him. He has the spiritual support of his fellow soldiers, who are waiting to see whether Yossarian’s protest will end in disaster or triumph. While the war is nearing its end, Yossarian begins a private war against his commander. His protest is a silent and non-violent one.

Nately’s prostitute’s response to his death is both passionate and irrational. She tries to kill Yossarian perhaps because he is the one who brings her the news. Her presence comes to symbolize Yossarian’s sense of guilt about Nately’s death. Perhaps, if Yossarian had protested earlier, Cathcart may not have been able to increase the number of missions, and Nately would not have died. Finally, Yossarian takes on the mantle of a classical hero, and Cathcart is clearly seen as the villain.

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