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 wires from the intercom system so he and Sampson can no longer communicate. Yossarian gathers his map case and three flak suits before making his way to Nately, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. Yossarian grins at Sampson, sitting behind Nately, and yells that he cannot hear him. Sampson yells back that he is shouting is loud as he can, but Yossarian says they will have to turn back because the intercom is not working.

Sampson is incredulous and looks to Nately for support, but the co-pilot studiously avoids making eye contact with Sampson. In a moment, Sampson whoops with delight, capitulating to the inevitable; he is soon joined by Nately and Sergeant Knight, who comes down from the gun turret. Amid the jubilation, Sampson turns the airplane around, but the celebration turns to silence as they approach the landing field. They drive through the mountains back to camp in silence. Doc Daneeka is standing outside his tent; the danger everyone else is in has heightened his concern for his own safety. Chief White Halfoat is busy stealing and drinking alcohol until a distressed Captain Black comes to stop him and steals the rest for himself. After the others leave in the Jeep, Yossarian is alone and Black asks him why his airplane turned back, but Yossarian ignores him.

Yossarian undresses and walks to the beach. Along the way he sees hundreds of mushrooms which sprouted in the recent rain and hurries past them, half expecting them to attack him. He swims a bit and then lies in the sand and sleeps until he hears the hum of his returning squadron. He is shocked to see every aircraft (except his) flying in precise formation; none of them are lagging behind, damaged, and none are flying in advance, with wounded. Yossarian is puzzled but then decides the target must have been under cloud cover, causing the mission to be postponed. Later he discovers that the Bologna attack was a “milk run,” a mission that was met with no resistance.