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 gone when he reaches the club, so Yossarian walks wistfully home, thinking of all the women with whom he is in love, including the lovely countess and her daughter who live above the soldiers’ apartments but will not let him touch them.

He arrives at the apartments and is surprised to see Aarfy is there and the girl is gone. Aarfy explains that he was unwilling to take advantage of a drunken girl (though all she talked about was having sex with anyone who was willing) and took her home. Yossarian and the others are furious at this wasted opportunity.

At dawn, the maid wakes Yossarian to announce a visitor. Yossarian is shocked that Luciana keeps her word and jumps out of bed to grab her. Luciana is dressed for work and slaps him, calling him a pig. She begins tidying the room as he runs to the bathroom to clean himself up a bit. When he returns, the room is neat and Luciana is nearly undressed. Afterward, Luciana rues the fact that no one will marry her because she is not a virgin, which makes Yossarian love her. He says he will marry her and she says he is crazy and cannot marry him; because she will not marry him, Yossarian thinks she is crazy and therefore cannot marry her. It is an amusing idea to both of them.

Hungry Joe inadvertently interrupts them and runs for his camera. Yossarian pushes Luciana to get dressed because he knows Hungry Joe will be back to take whatever pictures he can get. He returns but Yossarian keeps him out. Yossarian convinces Luciana to write her name and address on a piece of paper, but she knows he will tear it up as soon as she leaves, which he does. Soon he regrets it and tries to recover the bits of paper, but they are gone. He searches for her all day and that night, but he cannot find her. He has sex with the compliant maid before flying back to Pianosa where he is met by Nately who is in high spirits. Yossarian knows what that means and he is correct: the colonel has changed the required number of missions from thirty-five to forty. Yossarian immediately runs into the hospital.