Chapter 12 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 506
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 officer captured the city, they give the award to General Peckem; he immediately asks for more responsibility, as long as it does not involve combat.
Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen competes with Milo, selling items in the black market just under Milo’s price. Yossarian begs Wintergreen to forge official orders which would keep them all from flying the mission to Bologna because Yossarian is certain he is going to be killed on the mission. Wintergreen refuses. He and Clevinger both agree that one must die when one’s time to die comes, and Clevinger is outraged when Yossarian confesses he moved the bomb line to avoid going. Clevinger is concerned about the infantry men who are now at risk and believes all soldiers should follow orders unquestioningly, without worrying about dying. Yossarian’s view is that anyone who is trying to get him killed is the enemy, including Colonel Cathcart. (Clevinger forgets that and eventually dies.)
Yossarian is also responsible for telling Corporal Snark to put laundry soap in the sweet potatoes, giving everyone a terrible case of diarrhea and postponing the mission. After two weeks, the men are dispirited and having nightmares, fearing the mission to Bologna. Captain Black delightedly tells the men about a gun in Bologna which “glues a whole formation of planes together right in mid-air,” which amplifies their fear.
Yossarian convinces Chief White Halfoat to steal Black’s vehicle to avoid the mission; several others join them. It is raining and Halfoat misses his turn (because he refuses to turn on his headlights) before rolling the jeep in the mud. No one is hurt, and the men share a bottle of whiskey before Clevinger comes to investigate. Clevinger scolds them and says they must be trying either to drink or drown themselves to death.
Back at camp, Hungry Joe has nightmares, fearful that he will be called up as a replacement for someone on the Bologna mission. He also dreams that Huple’s cat is sitting on his face and suffocating him, which it is. Pandemonium ensues and Yossarian finally collars both Hungry Joe and the cat; he insists that the fight be a fair one and releases them both, but the cat runs off. Hungry Joe is declared the winner and again dreams that he is being suffocated by Huple’s cat.