Study Guide

Catch-22

by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 Summary

Summary (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 details the physical and psychological struggles of a young airman named Yossarian, who feigns illness and madness in an attempt to avoid being killed over World War II Italy. Realizing that the war is putting him in personal danger, Yossarian mounts a series of protests against it. At first, his protests are passive, as when he feigns illness and seeks refuge in an army field hospital. Later, he refuses to fly bombing missions, goes AWOL, and attempts escape, by inflatable rubber lifeboat, from Italy to Sweden.

Catch-22 features a dizzying array of characters, each having a unique dysfunctional relationship with the military bureaucracy that Heller rails against. Yossarian fights against the system because it does not take him into account. Orr, one of Yossarian’s peers, who shares Yossarian’s distaste for the war, successfully turns the military’s complete disregard for him into a tool that eventually enables him to escape. In contrast, Milo Minderbinder, one of the more insidious characters, harnesses the system for his own personal gain, counting on the self-interest of others to divert their attention from his ruthless profiteering.

One of the most haunting characters in the novel is the soldier in white. Completely wrapped, like a mummy, in strip bandages, the soldier in white first appears as a patient at the field hospital where Yossarian is hiding from the war. Yossarian observes that...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Catch-22 Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The events take place in Pianosa, a small Italian island where an Air Force bombing group is sweating out the closing months of World War II, and Rome, where the flyers go on leave to stage latter-day Roman orgies in a city filled with prostitutes. Men who behave like madmen are awarded medals. In a world of madmen at war, the maddest—or the sanest—of all is Captain John Yossarian, a bombardier of the 256th Squadron. Deciding that death in war is a matter of circumstance and having no wish to be victimized by any kind of circumstance, he tries by every means he can think of—including malingering, defiance, cowardice, and irrational behavior—to get out of the war. That is his resolve after the disastrous raid over Avignon, when Snowden, the radio-gunner, was shot almost in two, splashing his blood and entrails over Yossarian’s uniform and teaching the bombardier the cold, simple fact of man’s mortality. For some time after that, Yossarian refuses to wear any clothes, and when General Dreedle, the wing commander, arrives to award the bombardier a Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism, military procedure is upset because Yossarian wears no uniform on which to pin the medal. Yossarian’s logic of nonparticipation is so simple that everyone thinks him crazy, especially when he insists that “they” are trying to murder him. His insistence leads to an argument with Clevinger, who is bright and always has an excuse or an explanation for everything. When Clevinger wants to know who Yossarian thinks is trying to murder him, the bombardier says that all of “them” are, and Clevinger says that he has no idea who “they” can be.

Yossarian goes off to the hospital, complaining of a pain in his liver. If he has jaundice, the doctors will discharge him; if not, they will send him back to duty. Yossarian spends some of his time censoring the enlisted men’s letters. On some, he signs Washington Irving’s name as censor; on others, he crosses out the letter but adds loving messages signed with the chaplain’s name. The hospital would be a good place to stay for the rest of the war were it not for a talkative Texan and a patient so cased in bandages that Yossarian wonders at times whether there is a real body inside. When he returns to his squadron, he learns that Colonel Cathcart, the group commander, raised the number of required missions to fifty. Meanwhile, Clevinger dips his plane into a cloud one...

(The entire section is 991 words.)

Catch-22 Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

The events on the tiny Mediterranean island of Pianola, where Heller’s characters are stationed, are often grotesque exaggerations of events in the larger society. There is a Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, when the entrepreneur Milo Minderbinder, supply officer of the group, tries to insist that all the officers and enlisted men sign loyalty oaths before they can eat in the group’s mess halls. Other actions are simply inexplicable, as with the reluctant officer who refuses to see anyone during office hours. Still others are grim, such as the “soldier in white” who is placed in the hospital ward with other officers, completely encased in plaster; he never moves or speaks, and after a couple of days he is declared dead.

Heller’s central character, Yossarian, is fond of confusing other characters with apparently crazy but logical views of events, and he frequently undertakes bizarre actions—for example, sitting in a tree naked during the funeral of one of the flyers. It becomes clear, however, that for Yossarian and his buddies—other flyers, such as Orr and Dunbar—jokes and unusual behavior are the only ways to retain something like sanity. Their commanders are even crazier than they are, their missions become increasingly hazardous, and their fellow fliers die, one by one or in groups.

Yossarian is the most religious character in Catch-22, willing to try any way of circumventing authority and retaining his individuality. He argues that he is a unique victim because the people he drops bombs on are trying to kill him. When the logical Clevinger responds by pointing out that the Germans are trying to kill everyone, Yossarian says simply that this does not matter to him if he is killed. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that all the men, in fact, are dying: Doe Daneeka, Kraft, Coombs, Kid Sampson, McWatt, Chief White...

(The entire section is 764 words.)

Catch-22 Overview

Catch-22 is a product of intense private and public concerns. Heller based the novel's plot on his memories of World War II bombing...

(The entire section is 281 words.)

Catch-22 Summary

"The Catch-22"

Joseph Heller's satirical war novel Catch-22 depicts the absurdity and inhumanity of warfare through the experiences of Yossarian, a...

(The entire section is 355 words.)

Life in the Squadron

From the film Catch-22, starring Alan Arkin. Published by Gale Cengage

The novel begins with Yossarian in a military hospital faking a liver ailment. He spends his time censoring letters until a talkative Texan...

(The entire section is 584 words.)

Casualties of War

Soon, a series of tragedies hits the unit. McWatt, while jokingly flying low over the beach, accidently kills a member of the squad. Kid...

(The entire section is 286 words.)

The Final Catch

On Pianosa, Colonel Korn, Cathcart's assistant, informs Yossarian that they are sending him home. Yossarian is a danger to his superiors...

(The entire section is 311 words.)

Catch-22 Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1 Summary

The Texan

Yossarian is a puzzle to his doctors. The pain in his liver is not quite jaundice—almost, but not quite. If it turns into jaundice, they can treat it; if it does not become jaundice and goes away, they can dismiss him. Each day three doctors and Nurse Duckett (a brisk and serious woman who does not like Yossarian) come to check on him. When he tells them the pain is exactly the same, and they are irritated.

The pain in his liver is actually gone, but Yossarian does not tell them and they do not seem to suspect anything except perhaps that he is moving his bowels in secret. None of the nurses like Yossarian, but he has everything he needs in the hospital. The food is good, with...

(The entire section is 809 words.)

Chapter 2 Summary

Clevinger

Outside the hospital, the war continues. “Men go mad and are rewarded with medals,” and young boys all over the world give their lives for what they have been told is their country. No one seems to mind much, including those boys who are losing everything, and there seems to be no end in sight. Yossarian would have been content to live out the rest of the war in the hospital, but the Texan ruined all that. He obviously wanted everybody to be happy, and he is obviously a very sick man.

Yossarian cannot be happy because there is nothing funny about life outside of the hospital; a war is going on and no one seems to notice. When he tries to remind people that there is a war going...

(The entire section is 811 words.)

Chapter 3 Summary

Havermeyer

Only Orr and the dead man are there when Yossarian returns from the hospital. The dead man bothers him, but no one will admit the dead man ever existed—which of course he no longer does. Orr is trying to repair a gas leak in the stove and tells a frustratingly convoluted story about walking around with crab apples in his cheeks when he was a kid because he wanted round cheeks. Yossarian knows Orr will never tell him why he wanted round cheeks.

General P.P. Peckham is responsible for sending out the U.S.O. troops. He has moved his headquarters to Rome and spends his time scheming against General Dreedle. Dreedle refuses to obey Peckham’s ridiculous orders (such as requiring...

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Chapter 4 Summary

Doc Daneeka

Hungry Joe is crazy, and Yossarian tries to help him; however, Hungry Joe will not listen to Yossarian because he is certain Yossarian is crazy. Dan Daneeka is mournful, melancholy soul who enjoys sulking. He wishes he were back home making money, he continually complains about his health, and he feels claustrophobic when he has to fly once a month to receive his flight pay. If Daneeka ever grounds Yossarian, a disgruntled Cathcart will transfer Daneeka, even though Yossarian has been a friend and arranged for Daneeka to collect his flight pay without ever flying.

Daneeka says that friends do favors for one another, but when Yossarian asks Daneeka to do...

(The entire section is 404 words.)

Chapter 5 Summary

Chief White Halfoat

Dan Daneeka shares a tent with Chief White Halfoat, a man he fears and despises. Each man is consumed with his own troubles. Daneeka’s practice in Staten Island failed, and everything he bought on credit was eventually repossessed. Just when things were the worst, though, the war erupted and saved him. Most of the other doctors nearby were called into service, and Daneeka soon had more patients than he could competently treat. He was regularly receiving kickbacks and performing illegal abortions until the draft board discovered him.

Daneeka had performed his own physical examination in which he concluded he was unfit for duty. The draft board man saw that Daneeka did...

(The entire section is 506 words.)

Chapter 6 Summary

Hungry Joe

Hungry Joe has flown fifty missions and is ready to go home, but he is sick. Every noise enrages him; he is a “throbbing, ragged mass of motile irritability.” He forces his roommate, fifteen-year-old Huple (who lied to enlist), to do what he does every night: wrap his watch in a pair of wool socks and place it in his footlocker clear across the room. If this is not done, Hungry Joe cannot sleep.

In civilian life, Hungry Joe was a photographer for Life magazine, and here he manages to persuade women to strip naked for him so he can take their pictures; however, the photographs never turn out and most of the time he is torn between wanting to ravage the women and...

(The entire section is 498 words.)

Chapter 7 Summary

McWatt

McWatt is Yossarian’s usual pilot and is probably the craziest combat soldier of all because he is “perfectly sane and still does not mind the war.” He wears red pajamas and “fleecy bedroom slippers,” whistles show tunes, sleeps on colored bedsheets, and is in a constant state of happiness.

McWatt is impressed with Milo Minderbinder, the mess cook who buys eggs for seven cents each and sells them for five cents. Minderbinder, however, is impressed with the letter Yossarian obtained from Doc Daneeka entitling him to take all the fruit and fruit juices he wants.

Yossarian’s admittedly imaginary liver condition is perplexing to the cook, but Yossarian explains...

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Chapter 8 Summary

Lieutenant Scheisskopf

Clevenger knows everything about the war except why he has to die while someone like Corporal Snark “is allowed to live.” Nothing in the world demands Yossarian’s “premature demise” either as the only certain thing in war is that some must die. Clevenger is a Harvard scholar, an earnest and conscientious “dope.” Yossarian and Clevenger were in cadet school together.

One day in cadet school, Yossarian tries to warn Clevenger not to tell Lieutenant Scheisskopf why the morale of his squadron of aviator cadets is so low, but Clevinger does not listen. Clevenger tells Scheisskopf it is because the cadets do not want to participate in the Sunday afternoon...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

Chapter 9 Summary

Major Major Major Major

Thirty-one-year-old Major Major Major Major was born with several disadvantages, including his name. He looked like Henry Fonda and was always apologizing for not being Henry Fonda. Major’s father was a “sober, God-fearing man” who made his living not growing alfalfa as the “Government paid him well for each bushel he did not grow.” Soon he was not growing more alfalfa than anyone in the county.

In kindergarten, Major finally discovered that his father named him Major Major Major instead of his wife’s choice, Caleb Major; until then, everyone called the boy Caleb. The revelation actually killed the boy’s mother, and Major Major Major suffered an acute...

(The entire section is 512 words.)

Chapter 10 Summary

Wintergreen

Eighteen planes fly a mission off the coast of Elba, but only seventeen of them come back. Helicopters search, but no trace of the missing plane is found. Clevenger is presumed dead; Yossarian assumes he has just gone AWOL.

Every time ex-PFC Wintergreen goes AWOL, he is sentenced to dig six-by-six-foot holes and then refill them. He accepts “his role of digging and filling up holes with all the uncomplaining dedication of a true patriot.” When he dug holes in Colorado, he struck oil. At the mention of oil, Chief White Halfoat was transferred but eventually returned to Pianosa to replace Lieutenant Coombs. Coombs went out as a guest one day to experience real combat; he and...

(The entire section is 507 words.)

Chapter 11 Summary

Captain Black

Corporal Kolodny receives surprising news on the telephone and shares it with Captain Black who is longing at his desk. Black immediately brightens and laughs in amazement. He cannot wait to see the reaction when the squadron realizes they will have to fly a mission to Bologna. It is the first laugh Black has had since Major Major “outsmarted him and was appointed squadron commander.”

His amusement continues as the bombardiers come for their flight maps and are incredulous to learn that they are flying to Bologna. Black relishes their horror and assures them they are all going to die this time. When he goes outside where the men are preparing to fly, Black gloats over their...

(The entire section is 492 words.)

Chapter 12 Summary

Bologna

The men are already fearful about their mission to Bologna, and then a “cruel series of postponements” gives the men too much time to consider the dangerous mission. The interminable rain makes them miserable, but soon they pray the rain continues. The morning after Hungry Joe’s fight with Huple’s cat, the rain stops. It will take the runway twenty-four hours to dry.

Resentments build and the only hope is if the bomb line shifts past Bologna; that night Yossarian sneaks to the map and shifts the bomb line. In the morning, everyone in leadership believes the map, cancels the mission, and celebrates by awarding a medal to the infantry officer who captured Bologna. Since no...

(The entire section is 506 words.)

Chapter 13 Summary

Major --- de Coverly

The Germans are not fooled by moving the bomb line, but Major --- de Coverly is completely fooled. De Coverly is a “splendid, awe-inspiring, grave old man” with a mane of white hair who rages around the camps like a patriarch. His only duties consist of “pitching horseshoes, kidnapping Italian laborers, and renting apartments” for officers and enlisted men to use on leave. He is superior at all three of his tasks.

Each time a city is about to fall, de Coverly commandeers a pilot and an airplane and flies off without a word. Several days after the city falls, he returns with the leases to two “large and luxurious” apartments (one for officers, one for enlisted...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Chapter 14 Summary

Kid Sampson

By the time he goes on the mission to Bologna, Yossarian is brave enough not to pass over the target even one time. He is in Kid Sampson’s airplane and calls back to ask Sampson what is wrong with the plane, sending Sampson into a panic. Sampson then shrieks and asks what is wrong with the airplane; in turn, Yossarian wonders what is wrong with the plane and asks if they should bail out. Finally they both calm down enough to realize that nothing is wrong with the aircraft; however, Yossarian is distraught, thinking things are “terribly wrong” if everything is “all right” and he has no reason to turn the airplane back toward camp.

Yossarian yanks out all the...

(The entire section is 461 words.)

Chapter 15 Summary

Piltchard and Wren

Captains Piltchard and Wren are “inoffensive joint squadron operations officers” who want nothing more than to fly combat missions. They persistently beg Colonel Cathcart to fly hundreds of missions and fly every one they can. War is the pinnacle of their life-experience, and they are afraid they may never be in another one. They do not cause any disruption but are most comfortable with their own company. They gently reprimand Yossarian publicly for forcing Kid Sampson to turn back from the mission in Bologna.

Piltchard scolds Yossarian and says a mission should be scrapped only for something important, not a defective intercom. Wren has nothing to add but is proud to...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

Chapter 16 Summary

Luciana

Yossarian finds Luciana, a “tall, earthy, exuberant girl with long hair and a pretty face, a buxom, delightful, flirtations girl,” in an officers’ night club. She allows Yossarian to buy her dinner; after she eats heartily, Yossarian assumes he will be able to sleep with her. Instead, she tells him she has to go home to her mother but will come to his room early in the morning before she goes to work.

After escorting Luciana to her ride home, Yossarian rushes back to the club, hoping the “coarse, vulgar, amoral” girl who was with Aarfy (but would have been perfect for him) could offer him an aunt, friend, sister, or mother for the night. She and everyone else is...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Chapter 17 Summary

The Soldier in White

Yossarian is determined to remain in the hospital rather than fly a thirty-third mission; ten days later he changes his mind and comes out—only to find that the colonel has raised the number to forty-five.

Again Yossarian returns to the hospital, determined not to fly any more than his thirty-eight missions. He is free to escape to the hospital at any time because of his liver condition; he says he has one and the doctors are ashamed they cannot fix it.

Being in the hospital is easy for Yossarian; the death rate is higher outside the hospital than inside it, and the deaths outside are much uglier. Not everything inside the hospital is easy or convenient,...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Chapter 18 Summary

The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice

Yossarian owes his good health to teamwork, fresh air, exercise, and good sportsmanship; he discovers the hospital in an attempt to get away from all of that. One day, instead of doing calisthenics, he goes to the infirmary complaining of abdominal pain, something the doctors now have to observe for five days because too many soldiers have had trouble when their complaints were not taken seriously.

A young English intern comes to see Yossarian and advises him to complain about his liver because it is something the doctors know little about; no doctor ever sees Yossarian more than once, which makes life even easier for him. After ten days of tests and...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Chapter 19 Summary

Colonel Cathcart

Thirty-six-year-old Colonel Cathcart is a “slick, successful, slipshod, unhappy man” who wants more than anything to be a general. He is “dashing and dejected, poised and chagrined…complacent and insecure.” He is conceited and deviously tries to keep his name before his superiors; he is also miserable because he is only a full colonel. He does not believe in absolutes, measuring himself only against others. He worries constantly about what his colleagues and superiors think of him and is willing to change to gain their approval.

Cathcart spends all his time calculating, not on behalf of his men but for his own advancement. He prides himself on being an insider but...

(The entire section is 493 words.)

Chapter 20 Summary

Corporal Whitcomb

The chaplain is discouraged as he leaves Colonel Cathcart’s office, ashamed that he had not been more forceful when discussing the new sixty-mission rule. This is always how he feels when he is confronted with stronger personalities. He already feels terrible, but he feels worse as he sees Colonel Korn walking toward him. The chaplain is even more frightened of Korn than he is of Cathcart, for Korn is disdainful and derisive and the man of God finds himself tongue-tied whenever they meet.

Korn is “an untidy disdainful man” in a rotund and rather repulsive body. The two men pass one another and Korn curtly addresses the Anabaptist chaplain as father, a...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Chapter 21 Summary

General Dreedle

All Colonel Cathcart can think about is Yossarian; it is too much of a coincidence for the man the chaplain mentioned not to be the same Yossarian who was the cause of Cathcart’s most humiliating moment. A man named Yossarian arrived wearing nothing but moccasins to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross medal from Colonel Dreedle. Upon reflection, he is mortified to remember that he also approved a medal for someone named Yossarian for blowing up an ammunition dump despite his striking another airplane in the process. Cathcart feels as if he is some kind of cosmic peril and Yossarian is his nemesis.

Cathcart is uncertain if the activities he is involved in with...

(The entire section is 492 words.)

Chapter 22 Summary

Milo the Mayor

Yossarian loses his nerve on the mission to Avignon which he flies with Snowden, Huple, and Dobbs. Huple, the pilot, is only fifteen years old, and Dobbs, the co-pilot, has no faith in him. As soon as they dropped their bombs, Dobbs goes berserk and wrests the controls from Huple. The plane dives and nearly crashes until Huple regains the controls and tries to guide them to safety. “Dobbs [is] the worst pilot in the world and [knows] it.” Suddenly there is a hole in the windshield of the plane and the radio-gunner, Snowden, is on the ground after he faints.

Dobbs is the one who instigates a plot to kill Colonel Cathcart because he had just raised the required number of...

(The entire section is 448 words.)

Chapter 23 Summary

Nately’s Old Man

Nately finds his whore after “many fruitless weeks of mournful searching” and lures her and her two girlfriends back to his apartment by promising them thirty dollars each. Nately will pay but wants Aarfy and Yossarian to take the other two friends. Aarfy obnoxiously proclaims he never has to “pay for it,” but he suggests they keep the girls until after curfew and then threaten to have them arrested unless the girls return the money.

Aarfy is always trying to “help” Nately because Nately’s father is rich and influential, and Aarfy hopes to benefit from him after the war. The girl Nately is so in love with swears sullenly at him until Hungry Joe and Dunbar...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Chapter 24 Summary

Milo

April is the best month for Milo Minderbinder because the produce is fresh and he is able to buy and sell many things officers want. Everyone is a shareholder in the syndicate, and all he asks from any of the commanders is the use of one plane and a pilot. When one of them refuses, Minderbinder tells General Dreedle and Dreedle immediately replaces the uncooperative leader with a decrepit officer who particularly likes litchi nuts.

No one understands how Minderbinder will get the items he promises them, as many of them are found only behind enemy lines; however, he knows where items are traded and is able to get them through a maze of cross-trading and traitorous dealing.

...

(The entire section is 503 words.)

Chapter 25 Summary

The Chaplain

The Chaplain has long been questioning his faith, and being an Army chaplain is making things worse. He sees himself as a failure. He has met Yossarian many times and always feels as if he has met him before; to him, such feelings have importance. The chaplain misses his family and is convinced he is not “particularly well suited to his work.” He feels safe sitting with Yossarian and Dunbar at the officers’ club, as he is protected from others who welcome him effusively but are anxious for him to go away. Yossarian even defends him the night Colonel Cathcart tried to eject him from the officer’s club.

No one seems to understand that Chaplain Albert Taylor Tappman is a...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

Chapter 26 Summary

Aarfy

Everything is Yossarian’s fault. If he had not moved the bomb line during the siege of Bologna, Major de Coverly might still be here and would not have “stocked the enlisted men’s apartment with girls who had no place to live,” and Nately would not have fallen in love with his whore.

The girl Nately is in love with is tall, firm, and voluptuous, but none of the other men want her “at any price.” When she leaves, Nately follows her, and Yossarian and Aarfy find them two hours later. The girl is dressing to leave and Nately is distraught; he tells his friends that the girl is bored with him and wants to go. Aarfy is derisive and says she is just a whore. Yossarian is more...

(The entire section is 492 words.)

Chapter 27 Summary

Nurse Duckett

Nurse Duckett is a “tall, spare, mature, straight-backed woman,… very lovely and very plain.” She is an intelligent, responsible, and capable woman. Yossarian pities her and decides to help by making sexual advances to her. Dunbar joins in the game until he knocks himself out in an attempt to grope her; now he actually suffers from the condition which he has been faking in order to avoid flying missions.

The doctor in charge scolds both men for their behavior, but of course Yossarian and Dunbar soon get him quite confused and he sends Yossarian to the psychiatrist, Major Sanderson. Sanderson encourages Yossarian to describe the recurring dreams he claims to have (which...

(The entire section is 505 words.)

Chapter 28 Summary

Dobbs

Yossarian is still recovering from his wound but flies two missions before he learns of another planned mission to Bologna. That is when he goes to see Dobbs to plan Colonel Cathcart’s murder. Dobbs is appalled at the idea, since he has now completed the two missions he needed and is waiting to go home. He suggests that Yossarian just fly his last two missions or else talk to Orr, who “might be unhappy enough to kill” Cathcart.

Orr’s airplane was “knocked down” again, though he was able to land the craft successfully. The life rafts did not inflate (because Milo Minderbinder stole the carbon dioxide from them in order to make ice cream sodas for the men), but the raft did;...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Chapter 29 Summary

Peckem

Orr does not appear for ten days, and Colonel Cathcart is told to prepare a letter to Orr’s next-of-kin. General Peckem has sent an order: there will be no parade this Sunday because Colonel Scheisskopf is being sent overseas. Scheisskopf does not approve of the move, nevertheless he reports to Peckem in Rome as ordered.

P.P. Peckem is a “handsome, pink-skinned man of fifty-three” who is quite aware of everyone’s ridiculousness but his own. His language is bombastic and he thinks he is most amusing. Scheisskopf is not amused and Peckem is stunned at the man’s lack of enthusiasm for his wittiness. Though this causes Peckem some self-doubt, he magnanimously forgives...

(The entire section is 506 words.)

Chapter 30 Summary

Dunbar

Yossarian no longer cares where his bombs fall. Dunbar drops his hundreds of yards away from the village, an offense punishable by court martial if anyone can prove it. Dunbar never laughs anymore and is always “crude and surly and profane,” even in front of the chaplain. The chaplain tries to talk to Wintergreen about lowering the required number of missions, but Wintergreen refuses to see him, “too deeply involved with wartime activities to concern himself with matters so trivial.”

Yossarian is again the lead bombardier; he is paired with McWatt, whom he likes, and Aarfy, whom he does not. McWatt is generally unafraid and loves performing low-flying, outrageously risky...

(The entire section is 498 words.)

Chapter 31 Summary

Mrs. Daneeka

When Colonel Cathcart discovers that Doctor Daneeka died in the plane crash with McWatt, he raises the number of required missions to seventy. Sergeant Towser is the first in the squadron to learn that Daneeka’s name was on the passenger list McWatt filed, he is sad and goes to tell others, “discreetly avoiding any conversation with Doc Daneeka himself” as he walks past the physician. Now Towser has two dead men to deal with: the one in Yossarian’s tent who is not there and Daneeka who is certainly alive and will provide a “still thornier administrative problem” for Townsend.

Daneeka’s temperature is even more below normal than usual; someone suggests that may be...

(The entire section is 498 words.)

Chapter 32 Summary

Yo-Yo’s Roomies

The cold weather has come, but Yossarian is warm because of Orr’s stove. No one has retrieved Kid Sampson’s severed legs from the beach. The weather is miserable and every mission is difficult. The first thoughts Yossarian has every morning are about Kid Sampson’s “moldering stumps” and about Snowden freezing and wounded at the back of the airplane. Each night before he sleeps, Yossarian tries to remember everyone he has ever known who is now dead; the numbers keep increasing. The Germans are still fighting, and he suspects he is going to lose.

Yossarian would stay comfortably alone if his tent were not invaded by members of the “two full combat crews” Colonel...

(The entire section is 461 words.)

Chapter 33 Summary

Nately’s Whore

While in Rome, Yossarian misses Nurse Duckett; he misses her so much that he goes “searching hungrily” for Luciana, the prostitute with a scar. But the more he misses Duckett, the more Yossarian finds other women to have sex with.

He meets others from his squadron. Aarfy refuses to join Yossarian and the others as they drunkenly go to a hotel to rescue Nately’s whore from a group of “middle-aged military big shots” who hired her along with two other prostitutes. They are keeping her captive because she will not say uncle. Actually, she readily says uncle but does not mean it because she does not understand what they are really asking her to do.

...

(The entire section is 419 words.)

Chapter 34 Summary

Thanksgiving

Sergeant Knight is really the one to blame for Yossarian’s breaking Nately’s nose on Thanksgiving Day. Milo Minderbinder provides an elaborate meal followed by all the cheap whiskey anyone can drink. Nearly everyone is either “merry or sick” in his drunkenness. Yossarian goes to bed early and is awakened a bit later to the sound of machine gun fire; this sends him under his cot in terror, a “trembling, praying ball” soaked with sweat.

He is furious to learn that that it was a drunken joke. He loads his .45 and leaves his tent, ignoring Nately’s attempts to stop him. The machine gun fire begins again and Yossarian is full of “ferocious rage and determination.”...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Chapter 35 Summary

Milo the Militant

Yossarian prays for the first time in his life: he prays to Nately not to volunteer to fly more than seventy missions. Chief White Halfoat did die of pneumonia in the hospital and Nately has applied to take his job. Nately is unmoved by Yossarian’s plea. He has to fly more missions or he will be sent home, and he does not want to go home until he can take his girl friend with him. Yossarian then urges Nately to get himself grounded, but Colonel Korn has told Nately that he must either fly more missions or go home. Yossarian talks to Milo Minderbinder who then talks to Colonel Cathcart.

Minderbinder has “been earning many distinctions for himself.” He sells petroleum...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Chapter 36 Summary

The Cellar

The disaster is too awful for Chaplain Tappman to contemplate. At first he prays that his closest friends have survived, but he knows that is not a proper prayer. He lives in constant fear that he is going to die without ever seeing his wife and children again. He rides to the landing field with Sergeant Whitcomb and tries not to listen as Whitcomb celebrates being able to write twelve letters of condolence all at once. When they arrive, the chaplain is in awe it the “great, appalling stillness.” He is overjoyed to see Yossarian but can immediately see by his face that Nately is dead. As the chaplain sobs his grief, someone takes him firmly by the arm and takes him away for questioning....

(The entire section is 435 words.)

Chapter 37 Summary

General Scheisskopf

General Dreedle is out of power and General Peckem is in; Peckem has hardly gotten settled before his tremendous military victory begins to fall apart around him. In addition to that, he is surprised to learn that Colonel Scheisskopf is now Lieutenant General Scheisskopf. Peckem asks the sergeant (his secretary) about it; the sergeant informs Peckem that Scheisskopf does not want Peckem to issue any orders to anyone in his command without clearing them through him.

For the first time in his life, Peckem swears aloud in his amazement. He assumes that the promotion was intended for him but was mistakenly given to Scheisskopf, instead. Colonel Cargill also wonders why...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Chapter 38 Summary

Kid Sister

Yossarian has refused to fly any more missions and is marching backwards with a gun on his hip. Captains Wren and Piltchard take him off the list for the next mission but report his refusal to Group Headquarters. Colonel Cathcart is disturbed to hear Yossarian’s name again, but Colonel Korn just laughs and says Yossarian has no choice but to fly more missions. That does not matter to Yossarian, so they begin by sending him to Rome for a few days to recover from Nately’s death.

When Yossarian tells Nately’s whore that Nately has been killed, she stabs at him with a potato peeler.” She assumes Yossarian is the one who killed him, and she is so crazed that Yossarian is afraid...

(The entire section is 506 words.)

Chapter 39 Summary

The Eternal City

Yossarian is “absent without official leave” as Milo Minderbinder flies him to Rome, piously scolding him for being disloyal. It is selfish of Yossarian to think only about his own safety while he, Colonels Cathcart and Korn, and others (none of whom do anything dangerous) are doing everything they can to win the war. Minderbinder claims that Yossarian is “jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.”

Yossarian nods but is thinking of all the people he knows who have died in this war. He understands why Nately’s whore holds him responsible for Nately’s death, as he is part of the older generation responsible for...

(The entire section is 496 words.)

Chapter 40 Summary

Catch-22

Of course there is a catch to Yossarian’s being able to leave—a Catch-22. Colonel Cathcart is fuming at all the trouble Yossarian has caused, but Colonel Korn is pleasant, reminding Yossarian that he has been treated well here: fed daily, paid on time, promoted to captain, and given a medal. Korn is convinced Yossarian will accept the “despicable deal” he is about to offer.

Korn admires Yossarian a little because he is an “intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand”; Korn admits he is also an intelligent person but has “no moral character at all.” All Cathcart keeps asking is whether Yossarian is aware that they are in the midst...

(The entire section is 499 words.)

Chapter 41 Summary

Snowden

Yossarian wakes in the hospital as people argue over whether he needs surgery. Nearly all of them are clearly inept, so Yossarian pretends to be unconscious so no one will take any action. Eventually he has to protest their outrageous suggestions; they finally anesthetize him so they can do what they want with him.

Yossarian wakes up in a private room with Colonel Korn assuring him that their deal is still in effect, assuming Yossarian lives. Yossarian promptly vomits and Korn rushes off in disgust. Later, he is roughly awakened by a “strange man with a mean face” who claims that he has Yossarian’s “pal.”

Yossarian wakes later and the chaplain says Yossarian’s...

(The entire section is 508 words.)

Chapter 42 Summary

Yossarian

Major Danby assures Yossarian that his deal with the colonels is still on, but Yossarian assures him that he is breaking his word because it is an “odious deal.” Yossarian wants to be sent home because he flew his required missions, not because he was stabbed by a crazy girl or because he is stubborn. He assures the nervous Danby that the colonels will not court-martial him because they filed an official report that made Yossarian a hero.

Danby assures Yossarian there are always multiple official reports, some of which make Yossarian a criminal; the colonels can create and choose any official report which suits their needs. If Yossarian is court-martialed, the colonels will...

(The entire section is 505 words.)