Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 500
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 examinations, a new group of doctors has bad news: Yossarian is fit and must leave the hospital. Suddenly another patient sits up in bed, screaming that he sees everything twice.
The medical personnel are immediately distraught and make a variety of diagnoses, though there is no reason or justification for any of them. They finally all agree that no one has a clue what is wrong with the man, but they quarantine everyone on the ward for two weeks. Yossarian spends the most rational Thanksgiving of his life in the hospital. (The next Thanksgiving with General Scheisskopf’s wife is the most irrational. They are both atheists and Yossarian debates with her about how miserable life is. Finally she gets angry, claiming the God she does not believe in is more just and merciful than Yossarian’s “mean and stupid” God. They agree to believe in whatever God they each choose not to believe in.)
Yossarian is distraught when the quarantine period is up and easily convinces the new doctors that he, too, now sees everything twice. He takes his cue from the original sufferer, but that night the soldier who sees everything twice dies, and now Yossarian is quick...
(The entire section contains 500 words.)
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