Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 507
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 Kraft died over Ferrara. Yossarian feels guilty when he thinks of Kraft because Kraft was killed on Yossarian’s second bombing mission.
Appleby wants to see Major Major but must wait until Major goes out to lunch—though Major will not be in until after lunch. Appleby leaves in confusion and sees a man who looks like Henry Fonda climbing out of Major’s window. Appleby stops and is then told he can see Major now, since Major has gone; but Appleby will have to leave when the Major returns, since Major “never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office.” Appleby assumes he is being made a fool of, but Sergeant Towser assures him he is only following Major’s orders. (Towser runs the squadron because no one else does it and has no interest in “war or advancement.”) Frustrated and confused, Appleby leaves a message and leaves. Towser suspects all uniformed men are crazy now that Colonel Cathcart has raised the required number of combat missions to fifty-five.
A replacement pilot named Mudd arrived and was killed in combat the same day; now he is referred to as “the dead man in Yossarian’s tent” because he was never officially part of the squadron and therefore cannot be officially removed from it. Towser hates both violence and waste, and it seems an “abhorrent extravagance” to fly Mudd all the way from America only to have him “blown into bits” two hours after arriving. Yossarian knows who Mudd is; he is the dead man whose belongings have been sitting on the cot across the tent, “contaminated with death,” for the past three months.
Yossarian remembers the Great Siege of Bologna a week after Mudd’s death, when Cathcart volunteered his men to bomb some ammunition dumps and closed the sick tent so no one could report sick.
Doctor Stubbs is irate at being forced to send men to certain death and wonders why he should even bother trying to save anyone’s life. Dunbar agrees and asks for codeine for his friend Yossarian. Stubbs wonders if Yossarian is the crazy Assyrian. Dunbar believes Yossarian might be the least crazy person he knows, since Yossarian swears he is not going to fly the Bologna mission. Stubbs agrees, saying Yossarian “may be the only sane one left.”
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